Cuts to social care packages 'creating a climate of fear' for families

Vital care packages are being slashed by Edinburgh City Council to plug a financial black hole of almost £70m, a leading charity warns.

Cuts to people’s care packages across Edinburgh are “just the tip of the iceberg” and could cost lives, a leading charity is warning.

Vocal say they’ve been inundated with concerns in recent months that care packages are being slashed or even withdrawn by the council, in a bid to plug a financial black hole of almost £70m.

John Temple relies on carers four times a day at home in Edinburgh after suffering a stroke two years ago.

But after a recent reassessment by a social worker, his family say they were told if they wanted to keep his care in place with the same provider, it would now cost them almost £600 a month.

His wife Kathy Temple and daughter Nikki are worried for his wellbeing.

Kathy told STV News: “He needs help with absolutely everything. They get him up, showered and to the toilet.

“John has oral challenges and the carers are now clued in and understand what he’s trying to say. They have good banter with him.

“He knows his carers and it’s devastating.”

Nikki added: “I feel we’re getting coerced and bullied into it. It feels like the council implement cuts on the community, who are the silent minority and have so much on their plates, relying on them not having the capacity to ask questions.

“It feels like they are creating a climate of fear with this added uncertainty.”

Kathy and Nikki Temple

The pair also claim they were reassured a cheaper provider could be sourced, but when they asked for further details, they were told one had not yet been found.

“It makes us think we are not being as honest and transparent as they are trying to make out,” Kathy added.

Like councils across Scotland, Edinburgh is facing huge financial challenges.

Charities say people’s care packages are in the firing line to try and plug the councils £67m budgetary black hole.

Rosemary McLoughlin, chief executive of charity Vocal, said it’s a picture being replicated across Scotland.

She said: “Edinburgh City Council is not unique in this. This is happening across Scotland as budgets tighten.

“With services being withdrawn or reduced, carers are being expected to fill in the gaps.

“Carers are contacting us on a daily basis saying they are experiencing stress and anxiety and are worried about the future. Many are in extreme poverty as it is and become ill themselves.

“They can’t see an end in sight – it has been building for a long time.

“We are calling for a new social contract to make sure carers’ health and finances aren’t impacted by taking on a caring role.”

Chief Officer of the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board, Pat Togher, said: “The Partnership is committed to ensuring that all service users in Edinburgh get the right package for them and we have a responsibility to regularly review all support packages to confirm that the needs of our residents continue to be met.  No unilateral decisions are made without input from people and their loved ones in ensuring these packages are right.

Our analysis of last year’s social care data from Public Health Scotland showed that EHSCP provides more care at home per person that the average for Scotland, and for comparable cities in Scotland.

Despite the significant financial challenges posed by a 47m pound budget deficit at the beginning of this financial year we have been able to reduce this substantially with help from partners in The City of Edinburgh Council and NHS Lothian, and we are implementing a package of reforms which will mitigate the structural deficit in a manageable way over three years to ensure the stability of the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership.”

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