Bedford Borough Council said it is implementing a series of “strategic measures” to ensure sustainable “high-quality” care services are available to residents that need it.
A government report published earlier this month (November 2023) detailed a number of important themes when developing approaches to local care market sustainability.
Referring to the care market in the borough, a council spokesperson said: “The council’s assessment indicates that there is generally sufficient and sustainable provision in most areas.
“However, there is noted over-provision in general residential care.
“The council recognises the need for cost-effective services for individuals with complex needs, particularly among younger people.”
When asked about its approach to ensuring care is available to residents who need it, the council spokesperson said: “We are implementing long-term framework agreements, ensuring quality services at sustainable rates, providing clear information to the care market about the council’s support requirements.
“There is market engagement with care providers to understand and respond to market challenges, and also people using services to shape services to meet need.
“We are using the market sustainability funding to meet a range of inflationary pressures plus above inflationary increases on standard local authority rates across residential and nursing and homecare,” they said.
The council said it has also increased direct payment rates above inflation to encourage the use of personal assistants in care provision.
A carer or personal assistant (PA) supports an individual so they can live as “independently as possible” in their own home.
The council’s spokesperson added: “They might work for only a few hours a week, or several hours each day (or night), and help with a range of tasks such as shopping and preparing meals.
“People with an assessed need, eligible under the Care Act 2014, can choose to have a Direct Payment (DP) or receive a service, which has been commissioned by the council, to meet their support needs.
“This provides people with a range of choices about how they receive their care which supports personalisation.
“For example, using a DP allows people requiring support greater choice over how they would like to receive their care and support.
“An individual may choose to employ a relative, friend or neighbour to provide their support as this may be a better option for them,” they said.
“The council also commissions a service to support people who wish to employ a PA, if they are not confident to do this independently.
“This service will guide and support individuals through their responsibilities as an employer,” they said.
The spokesperson said that despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, the care provider market in the borough has remained “strong”.
“The council expresses its commitment to maintaining strong relationships with care providers and the wider community to inform the development of future contracts and market shaping initiatives,” they said.
“These strategic efforts reflect the council’s dedication to ensuring sustainable and high-quality care services for the residents of Bedford borough.”
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter