CONTROVERSIAL changes to the home care system have nothing to do with saving money.
A top official says the changes – which have led to upset among many elderly people – are all about improving the service rather than saving cash.
Sally McIvor, Head of Adult Social Care Operations for Kirklees Council, also claims only a few people have been upset by the changes.
She said: "There are no expectations of savings. It’s about improving the quality of the service we offer.
"So actually what we’ve done is that this new rota makes sure there’s more service availability across the whole of Kirklees – so there will actually be staff available evenings and weekends, all day every day and bank holidays.
"This is moving us forward into that."
She added: "It’s about making sure people get the best quality of care at the time in their life when they need it."
When asked if she was planning to expand the number of care contracts that go to private companies she replied: "Part of the whole council’s approach is saying how do we meet people’s needs?
"The council has done that for years and has different ways of helping people who need our support and we offer that through charitable organisations and offer that through independent sector providers."
And she claimed that many people have not been left distressed by the changes.
She said: "There actually hasn’t been a significant number of people being upset with the changes to the systems.
"Recognising there are people who have had concerns we have gone back to every person who has had concerns to work with them and look at how to resolve that and move it forward.
"The actual benefits it will bring is for people now and people in the future.
"Because there are more older people coming, there are more older people going to be around in the population.
"This is making sure that everybody has the opportunity for a really good quality service."
When asked if there should have been better consultation with the people who pay for their home care service, she said: "I think people have been consulted with throughout the process about the changes which are taking place.
"We’re actually doing this work on the basis that the consultation with people says they want to remain independent in their own homes and having as much choice and control for as long as possible.
"These changes to the service will actually allow that to happen."
And she claimed work had been done to try to keep the same carers going into people’s homes.
"We actually worked really hard to try to make sure that part of their original care team stayed with them,’’ she said.
"So, as people have moved across, people who didn’t originally have their own care teams have now got them.
"This means that people who were having changes still had at least one if not two of the original care team in place.
"I think also it’s really important to notice that when people had regular care teams people would change, people would leave the job, people would go on holiday or people were sick.
"So different people would go and work with people, particularly where we got people who have complicated care needs and have two people at a time coming in.’’
She added: "I’m not saying that I don’t recognise that there’s been some concern for people.
"Whenever anybody has raised a concern we have gone back to them and are working really hard to try and make an improvement for them."
When asked if the new staff were properly trained she said: "Most staff know how to deal with the majority of situations.
"What we’re doing with the changes where people haven’t had that training package completed is to work very quickly to get those people up to speed.
"I think what we’d say overall is that all our staff are extremely well trained and particularly well trained in working with people with complex conditions."