Changes to adult social care proposed by Westminster Council have recently come under the spotlight when members of an independent scrutiny panel and the general public reviewed the consultation process.
In a meeting Cllr Daniel Astaire, Cabinet Member for Adult Services and Marian Harrington, Strategic Director of Adult Services, shared the results of a consultation. They also answered questions and concerns from both councillors and residents about the consultation and the proposals that will be taken forward to the Cabinet.
This special committee meeting was called by Cllr Sarah Richardson, Chairman of the Council’s Society, Families and Adult Services, Policy and Scrutiny Committee to ensure a transparent consultation process and that enough opportunities for service users to voice their concerns were given.
Committee members were told that the consultation surveys were complex, too long and in some cases, there were delays in receiving the questionnaire. Proposals put to recipients of the questionnaire included reviewing the fixed charge system for care, consolidating day care for older people and ending the day service for young adults with physical disabilities.
Cllr Richardson said: “There is no doubt of the strength of feeling from carers, service users and council officers and that the cabinet member responsible for adult services is facing some very tough decisions on the future of adult social care in Westminster.
“I believe that despite the criticisms we have heard, had the consultation process been conducted differently we would still have been left with the same outcome of large numbers of responses from some desperately concerned people.
“It is evident that the Council can and should improve how it consults with those for whom communication presents particulate challenges whether through cognitive difficulty, learning or physical disability, speech impairment or because of their age.
“Cllr Astaire stressed this evening that he is still considering his decision and he will take into account the views expressed during this consultation and at this meeting. It is also extremely important that Council staff work closely with those who may be affected by the proposals. Any changes which are carried out need to be done sensitively with people signposted to advice and information to help them.”