Vulnerable adults could ‘slip the net’

A CONSULTATION into adult social care provision has been extended but a charity leader fears the decision to axe key services in Skegness has already been taken.

Lincolnshire County Council’s 90 day consultation was extended to enable an ‘unprecedented’ level of feedback to be carefully analysed before any decisions are made.

The consultation will decide whether services such as the council’s day care centre on Algitha Road will continue as more of its users are encouraged to adopt ‘personal budgets’.

However Tina Mellors, chairman of Alive and Kicking, a charity for adults with learning disabilities, believes that the decision to close the centre has already been taken.

She fears that encouraging service users to purchase their own services privately with personal budgets rather than using council run centres could result in many vulnerable adults ‘slipping through the gaps’.

She said: “Personal budgets are fine in principle and some people will be able to do really well with them but the problem in Skegness is that there are too few services for users to buy into. At least the day centre gave people a chance to get out and about and to meet friends.

“There aren’t many training courses or schemes for people to get involved with in Skegness so I fear that they will just be left to sit at home with their elderly parents or wander round the streets with a support worker.

“It’s going alienate some vulnerable people who will be left to slip down the gaps in the system.”

Mrs Mellors also fears that those most likely to struggle with personal budgets are those least likely to have responded to the consultation questionnaire.

Although the county council felt the 550 questionnaires it received was a healthy response, Mrs Mellors believes it doesn’t represent the full cross section of adults who rely on the service throughout the county.

She believes that whereas the dynamic and well informed relatives of service users will have sent a response, less engaging relatives such as elderly parents won’t have - and those are the relatives she thinks will be least able to work with the personal budget system.

However a spokesperson for Lincolnshire County Council said that as no decision had yet been taken on Algitha Road and that everyone moving over to personal budgets would be supported. Those who feel unable to manage their budgets alone can also pay some of their budget towards having it managed.