Updated charging policy for social care services agreed

Aberdeenshire Council has agreed a new charging policy for social care that will see the authority move towards covering the full cost of services.

It means that costs and charges set by the council will be increased in line with the Retail Price index as a minimum. As of September this year, that figure stands at 3.1%.

The updated policy was approved during a meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s Communities Committee on Thursday (Thu, Dec 21).

During the meeting, the committee approved charges for both residential and non-residential care for 2018/19. The updated policy will be used by the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership in the delivery of services across the area.

Adam Coldwells, Chief Officer of the Partnership, told the committee that the proposed fees took account of national legislation and advice from national bodies for social care, adding that a large amount of services had been receiving subsidies.

It was proposed that increases to care home charges be phased in for existing residents but that new residents should pay the full rate upon entry.

Supporting the proposals, committee vice-chair Cllr Iris Walker called for care home increases to be phased over five years, and said clear communication with service-users would be essential.

“I think we all understand the principles of full cost recovery across council services,” said Cllr Walker.

“I think the key thing is we have a robust communications strategy so service-users and families are fully informed and have an opportunity to have face to face meetings with staff.”

Responding to a question from Cllr Dennis Robertson about whether fees should also be phased for new care home residents, Mr Coldwells said the reason for the proposal was that a good choice of care home sites existed in Aberdeenshire and that the service remained competitive even with the increased fees.

The committee went on to approve the new charging policy and agreed that phasing of residential care charges should take place over five years for existing residents. There will be no change to charges for very sheltered housing until a review is undertaken and reported back to committee.

It was also agreed that a communication and engagement plan be developed to raise awareness of the changes.