Priority order drawn up for places at new Lancashire care facilities

Places at new housing developments for older people across Lancashire are to be allocated on the basis of their care and accommodation needs.

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has agreed the priority order in which spaces in so-called “extra care” facilities will be filled.

Those with the greatest need for care and accommodation will get priority

Those with the greatest need for care and accommodation will get priority

The developments provide self-contained accommodation and round-the-clock care and support – and are designed to help people maintain their independence in a home environment.

A new extra care scheme, Primrose Gardens, opened late last month in Chorley and is currently seeing its first residents move in. Two more facilities – in Preston and Fleetwood – are expected to open early in the new year.

The greatest priority will be afforded to individuals who have been assessed as having high care needs and would otherwise be forced to move into a residential home. This may include people waiting to be discharged from hospital.

Individuals whose housing has been found to be unsuitable and whose lower-level care needs would be met or reduced by securing a place in an extra care development, will be given medium priority. Any remaining places will be allocated to anybody who feels that their wellbeing would be improved – and their future care requirements delayed – by moving into an extra care scheme.

“The facilities have aroused a lot of interest from people with no discernible care needs who just think that they would be a really nice place to live,” Graham Gooch, cabinet member for adult services, explained.

“While that’s very nice to see, it could make the whole scheme unsustainable if…the care provider can’t make a business out of it.”

A care company will bid to offer the 24-hour emergency support in extra care facilities, for which a “core charge” is levied. Cabinet members have agreed that the weekly fee for that service should be fixed at £17.50 per apartment.

Separately, individuals requiring planned care can choose to pay any provider to supply it – though there is an expectation that considerations of quality and continuity will encourage most people to use the same company that is providing the round-the-clock package.

Cabinet members heard that there is the potential for “overlap” between the staff providing the emergency and planned care – and that the core charge is likely only to cover the cost of 12 out of the 24 hours of on-call support. Providers are therefore being given an option to include a “contingency” in their proposed hourly rate for planned care, should they feel that they have insufficient staff to provide the round-the-clock service.

The meeting heard that the risk of the county council having to pay a higher rate for planned care will be mitigated by the likelihood of tenants who are funded via direct payments choosing a cheaper provider. Initial contracts with care providers will also be limited to two years.

Tenants can use their own personal budgets to pay the core charge levied by the provider, if they have an eligible need under the Care Act – otherwise, they will have to use their own resources.

County Hall ultimately aims to provide at least one extra care development in each of Lancashire’s 12 districts. Others are already open in West Lancashire and Rossendale.

As well as accommodation – which is operated by a landlord – they also provide communal facilities, group activities and services such as hair salons.