Residents who use sleepover or residential care in Argyll and Bute are set to be hit with big fee increases if proposals are approved by health chiefs.
The area’s health and social care partnership (HSCP) is seeking to increase sleepover care charges by 18 per cent to bring staff pay into line with the minimum wage.
And a six per cent increase would be applied for residential care in order to help meet the costs of providing the service. A standard three per cent inflation increase is to be applied to a number of other services.
The proposed changes are due to be discussed at a meeting of the HSCP’s integration joint board (IJB) on Wednesday.
David Forshaw, principal accountant for social work, states in a report on the issue: “The weekly charge for sleepover services has been increased by 18 per cent to reflect the increased cost of buying sleepover services after the pay rates are brought into line with the Scottish Living Wage from March 2019.
“The impact on service user charges is likely to be very limited as charges for sleepover services are means tested and service users contribute based on their financial circumstances and their ability to pay.
“The weekly charge for residential care provision in the partnership’s older people care homes has been increased by six per cent to bring the weekly charge into line with the average weekly cost of providing the service across the partnership’s care homes.
“The impact of this increase will be limited to residents who own capital and assets exceeding the upper capital limit set annually by the Scottish Government, currently standing at £27,250 for 2018/19, and other local authorities who place their service users in the partnership’s care homes.
“At the time of writing, there were 11 residents out of 70 in the partnership’s care homes with capital and assets exceeding the upper threshold who would be affected.”
Members of the IJB will also be asked to endorse new charges for services, including £4.50 a week for a non-residential services’ Telecare care assist system.
Use of mobile devices and monitoring would cost £2.50 a week while a ‘canary’ telecare system would be subject to a £2 per week charge under the proposals which are due to be discussed at Wednesday’s meeting.
Service users will also be subject to a requirement to pay by direct debit should the proposals be voted through.
Mr Forshaw also says in his report: “The cost to the partnership of bad debt during 2017/18 was circa £65,000.
“By insisting that charges are paid via direct debit, collection rates will be increased, resulting in the reduction of this cost to almost zero over the next few years.
“The policy would come into effect from April 2019 with service users having the option to complete a direct debit mandate with their care manager, by post via their local social work office or over the phone via the council’s customer contact centre.
“At the moment, approaching 60 per cent of the people who pay for their care fees pay via direct debit.
“Our objective is to increase this percentage to as close to 100 per cent as possible in order to improve convenience and protection for service users, increase collection rates, reduce bad debt and reduce payment transaction and recovery costs.”