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Health Politics South Wales Torfaen

Torfaen County Council to review domiciliary care night services

FAMILIES could be asked to take the place of paid carers as part of a council’s review of at-home care through the night. 

The service for the elderly, and other adults requiring care, could be “decommissioned” – but alternatives, which it’s said won’t leave people worse off, will be offered. 

In preparation for the review social services chiefs are set to agree that a current contract with a firm that provides domiciliary care night services is extended so assistance will continue throughout the period. 

Torfaen Borough Council says it wants to carry out an “in depth review” of the service and the needs of those who are currently supported. 

A council report states the review will consider if alternatives to the current night service could be provided, saying: “An in-depth review of the care and support needs of the individuals currently in receipt of the service is required to assess whether there are other ways to meet identified needs through other service provision or via family networks.” 

The report states: “If a decision is made to de-commission this service then existing service users will be afforded a suitable alternative which will not be detrimental to their overall well-being.” 

The report also says the review will have to consider the impacts “decommissioning” the service will have on “areas such as delayed transfers of care” – patients well enough to leave hospital but unable to do so either because there is no support in place for them to return to their own homes or a place for them in a care home. This is sometimes referred to as ‘bed blocking’.

Last month the Welsh Government faced criticism when it said hospitals should discharge patients if they were medically well enough to leave hospital – even if there was no care plan in place to relieve pressures. 

The council says the service has been important in helping people remain in their own homes by providing care at night but is launching the review with the current contract due to come to an end on March 31 this year. 

It has contracted night care providers since 2009 under previous contracts with the current provider and others. 

Jason O’Brien, Torfaen’s director of social care, is expected to approve extending the contract with the current provider, for no more than nine months from April 1, this year, so a service is in place during the review. 

As it is for a temporary period Mr O’Brien is able to take the decision without going through the usual tendering process. The contract is worth £156,628 and covers both planned and responsive care. Additional money to account for inflation could be added to the contract if requested by the provider and the cost will be met through the existing adult social care budget. 

The proposal to extend the contract is due to be considered by Mr O’Brien on Tuesday, February 14.