Highlighting an age-old problem

PUBLISHED: 16:21 28 September 2007 | UPDATED: 23:04 28 May 2010

OLDER people in Cambridgeshire are still staying in hospital too long after treatment and those with mental health difficulties receive a lesser degree of service . There is also a shortfall in some services including those with dementia, and waiting tim

OLDER people in Cambridgeshire are still staying in hospital too long after treatment and those with mental health difficulties receive "a lesser degree of service".

There is also a shortfall in some services including those with dementia, and waiting times for occupational assessment are still too long.

These are some of the findings of the latest survey of Cambridgeshire County Council and Primary Care Trust social care services carried out by the Commission for Social Care.

While agreeing the county council and PCT had done much to improve in the past year, particularly with more elderly people being helped to live at home, the commission believes more joined-up working is needed.

Inspectors also discovered both the county council and the primary care trust were not doing enough for older minority groups.

"There was little direct contact from the PCT or adult social care with black and minority ethnic, or with lesbian and gay, older people to strongly encourage their participating," says the report.

The inspection team says the challenges facing Cambridgeshire are immense, with the numbers of over-85s, for instance, likely to rise by 67 per cent by 2021, well above the national average.

But the inspectors say the council has problems with owners of private residential homes who were "of the opinion that the council was not fully engaging with them about filling known gaps in provision".

Fees paid were also lower than in other counties, and there remained shortfalls in temporary and permanent residential dementia care beds, specialist dementia day care and good quality home care.

The report also questions why "the cost of home care rose greatly in 2005/6, by 19 per cent for intensive home care and by six per cent for smaller packages of care.

"The council could not explain this level of increase, except that in previous years unit costs may have been calculated wrongly."

The inspectors highlighted inadequacies in training for management staff noting that "only 22 of the 87 front line staff who replied to our questionnaire said they had received training in the last two years to help them work effectively with mentally ill older people".

Inspectors also said that despite some good council initiatives "lack of flexible transport remained an obstacle to social inclusion and independence for older people in rural areas".

Councillor Roy Pegram, cabinet member for environment and community services, said the council was delighted the report noted progress being made.

"Equally we are determined to take measures to address the weaknesses they identified," he said.

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