Labour councillors in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea are becoming increasingly concerned at an apparent decline in the arrangements for caring for older residents.
Recently the Police have been called on several occasions to deal with residents of sheltered accommodation who have mental health crises. The Council have conceded that they now have to place more people with greater care needs into sheltered accommodation than before owing to a lack of specialised care elsewhere.
Councillor Judith Blakeman, Labour Group Leader, said: “many years ago we warned that ‘care in the community’ could lead to ‘dumping in the community’ unless very good care and support arrangements were put into place for all those who need them. Frail and vulnerable residents of sheltered accommodation now have to share their homes with people who have a greater need for extra care and support to enable them to live in the community. Without this assistance, they can engage in behaviour that damages other residents’ well-being and quiet enjoyment of their homes. And it is not right to expect the police to pick up the pieces when these things go wrong. Every time the police have to arrange for a vulnerable person to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act, this takes their scarce resource off the streets. The Council may have a ‘choice’ to cut care, but the Police do not”.
The extra focus that social services department now quite rightly deploy on child protection matters should not be at the expense of cutting care for other vulnerable residents, particular older people. A recent case of elder abuse in a local care home has further highlighted these concerns. Councillor Emma Dent Coad, Labour’s Deputy Leader, said: “I am extremely disturbed with a recent case where my concerns about the rough treatment of a blind 90-year-old were lost in the email system, and I am now informed that the best we can expect is an ‘improvement plan’. This hardly constitutes safeguarding. The Royal Borough spends a fortune placing our most vulnerable elderly in private care; if we are not monitoring this it is failure of our duties as well as a disgrace to the Council.’