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Roadshows to sound out care charge plans

SHETLAND’S community care service hits the road next week to explain how people may have to start paying for their care in the near future.

The islands’ population is ageing. The latest census figures show the overall number has gone up by more than five per cent to 23,200 in the decade up to 2011.

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However the number of folk aged more than 65 has rocketed by almost a quarter in that time, while the number of under 15 year olds fell by 7.5 per cent.

With old people living longer and public spending falling, the council needs to redesign its care services.

It also wants to provide a more personalised service that involves “customers” in designing their own care package and receiving more care at home.

Self directed support will see folk seeking out the best service on offer to make them as independent as possible, whether that is provided by the council or someone else.

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But Shetland Islands Council is likely to start charging people for looking after them in their own home for the first time from July; a final decision will be made this month.

The move has set off alarm bells in a wealthy community, which has become accustomed to receiving high standards of care from the council at no expense, aside from residential and respite care and meals on wheels.

However attempts by Shetland South councillor Allison Duncan to have the concept of charging thrown out failed to find a single supporter on the social services committee last month.

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Next week SIC community care director Sally Shaw will lead a series of eight roadshows throughout the isles to explain to council care staff, community councillors and the public what the plans involve.

Shaw will give a presentation about charging and self directed support, and hopes this will be followed by a lively question and answer session to “get a feel” of how the proposals are being received.

She will talk about who will be expected to contribute towards the cost of their care and how much that is likely to be, with every case being tailored to an individual’s needs and income.

The outcome of the roadshow will be reported back to councillors before a policy is drawn up by a steering group that will include recipients of the service.

This will then go out to further consultation before the changes are implemented in July.

“The bottom line is that we are looking at how much people pay for their care and what they will get for it,” she said.

“But this changes the relationship, because if people are contributing to the support they receive then they should have a better say in how that support is provided.”

A timetable for the community care roadshows can be found here.

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