Wiltshire Council plans for a big increase in Marlborough’s elderly and shakes-up current services
The Marlborough Area Board heard this week how Wiltshire Council is shaking up the provision for the care of Marlborough’s elderly. The Board was also told about longer term plans to provide new, improved and expanded services and accommodation for the fast increasing numbers of elderly – especially the vulnerable elderly and those with dementia.
By 2026 Wiltshire will see a fifty-five per cent rise in the number of its population who are over sixty-five; an eighty-nine per cent increase in those over eighty-five; and a fifty-nine per cent increase in those suffering from with dementia.
Under plans being implemented now, the Council is moving toward single suppliers for care of the elderly. This means that The Priory in Marlborough High Street, with its twenty-three flats, will continue to be owned and maintained by the Sarsen Housing Association, but its staff and services will transfer to the Leonard Cheshire organisation which is taking over care services for the Marlborough area.
Why have the Council taken this route? Across Wiltshire there are 120 home care organisations – with three serving the Marlborough area. And that 120 is being cut to just four organisations. Across the county there are twenty organisations providing housing support – with twelve operating in our area. Across the county there are six organisations supplying special equipment to the elderly – soon there will be just one.
The aim is produce a better service for the elderly and save money which will be reinvested in the services. The Council wants to reduce wastage from duplication and make savings from economies of scale.
However, John Thomson, Wiltshire Council’s cabinet representative for adult care, communities and housing, has told Marlborough News Online that this severe rationalisation “will not take any funding away from local charities – in fact it may increase their funding. The organisations we have chosen to run these services are actively encouraged to make use of local charities.”
There is much more in this programme - called “Helping people to stay at home” - to improve the lives of Marlborough’s present population of older people including a twenty-four hour ‘Telecare’ service. Once it’s up and running, calls from older people seeking urgent help or advice will be answered by people based in Wiltshire rather than by answerphones or far-flung call centres.
Looking further ahead, the Council’s “Older people accommodation development strategy” will see a new purpose-built sixteen bed nursing wing built at Coombe End Court for people with dementia. Also a new forty-five unit extra care centre will be built in the town. This will have a 24/7 care and support team and plenty of facilities – including a café, hairdressing suite and an IT room. It will also be open as a drop-in centre.
No site has been chosen for this new complex and building may not start till 2013-14. But the project managers are keen to take local views into account during the planning, design and tendering process and Councillor Jemima Milton offered the services of the Marlborough area Health Forum to take on this role. Volunteers are needed to assist the Forum.
Across the whole county, the Council plans 715 new extra care units, 338 specialist dementia care placements and 539 additional nursing beds for the elderly. It’s calculated that this programme will, over twenty years, avoid £600million in costs the Council would have faced if they had nothing to plan for the rising population of older people.