Suffolk County Council plans consultation on home care services and community meals

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Suffolk County Council is to launch a consultation to help form a potential overhaul of home care and community meals services used by 5,400 residents.

Bosses say current home care is based on an ‘outmoded model’ with defined tasks delivered in short time slots which ‘do not always meet the aspirations of customers for a personalised service that meets their individual needs’.

On Tuesday the authority’s cabinet is being asked to allow a 12 week consultation this autumn with service users, providers, health organisation partners and community groups to develop options for the future of the service.

They are also taking the chance to consider the council’s community meals provision as contracts for these services are due to expire in March.

On home care provision, Cllr Alan Murray, cabinet member for health and adult care, said the authority was looking at the possibility of providing ‘a more community based service rather than a company based service’.

He said: “We want to ensure that the home care and community meals services that people receive are relevant and apppropriate. We’re aware the current service is no longer working as well as it could for our customers and before we propose any changes it is only right that we ask those people who use the service what they think.”

A report to the cabinet says home care services ‘are not well integrated with other community based provision leading to considerable inefficiencies across the whole system’.

The county council spends £28 million per annum on the services which are purchased from 60 providers to deliver care to 4,500 people.

However, 85 per cent of total home care expenditure is with just 20 organisations.

The report adds that ‘at times the market is unable to respond to changes in demand’.

Meanwhile, 900 people receive community meals services across the county.

The authority spends £1.4 million on community meals through three contracts offset by £1.2 million from customers.

It supplies 219,000 hot meals per year to 600 people at a cost of £5.50 per meal.

The reports says most customers use the service seven days a week and about 50 per cent need help in plating up their meals. About 4,900 frozen meals are provided per year at a cost of £3.20 each.

The cabinet is being asked to extend the existing community meals contracts for about six months to allow for the review.