North Yorkshire County Council has reissued an appeal to Government for certainty over funding for vulnerable adults’ services.
The call came as the council’s leading members were questioned over claims the authority was continuing to improve key adult social care services despite being given insufficient funding and facing rising costs.
Another financial pressure facing the service includes a rising number of younger adults coming into the service who are going to need adult social care for a long time and that the level of support they need tends to be more expensive.
CQC inspection data published in October showed the quality of adult social care provision across North Yorkshire remains above the national average for domiciliary care providers.
A meeting of the council’s executive heard recent notable successes included inspection ratings for care providers in North Yorkshire being significantly better than regional averages although many of these providers provide care at rates which are higher than the authority’s budget levels.
However, across the county 46.6 per cent of residential and nursing placements for older people are above the council’s approved price rates, which equates to 922 of the 1,977 current placements.
As part of its work to drive up the quality of provision, the local authority created a Quality Improvement Team leading to the proportion of care providers in North Yorkshire rated inadequate or needs improvement falling from 20 per cent to 12 per cent.
Members heard North Yorkshire had also achieved the government’s challenging target for reducing delayed transfers of patients from hospitals to care settings, but that success had come at a cost to the council.
At the same time nearly half of all grant funding from government for the county’s adult care services, or £36m, is temporary money.
The authority’s adult social care executive member Councillor Michael Harrison said the council, which has put in an additional £9m of its own resources this year to shore up the adult social care budget, was working to help elderly people maintain a healthy independent life as long as possible.
The proportion of the county’s population aged 65 and over in 2011 was 20.7 per cent and had risen to 23.3 per cent in 2015. During the same period the over 85 age group increased by 8.3 per cent. It makes up 3.1 per cent of the total population in the 2015 estimates.
Cllr Harrison said the focus was on “what people can do, rather than what they can’t do”, adding: “Not only is it better for them, it is better for the public purse. It will continue to be a challenge. It is wonderful that we have got increasing demand as people are living longer, but it comes with a price tag. The long term sustainability of the sector needs money.
“The demand for services continues to rise, but the pathways we have to try divert as much as possible from going into services such as residential care are working well.
“In the longer term we need certainty around that funding. No matter what we do around pathways and constrain costs as much as possible the increase in demand is not going to go away. Particularly for residential placement costs it’s a fact of life that new placements are never going to cost less than an existing placement that comes to an end.”