youth projects - Janet Clowes, Conservative group leader cheshire east council 2019

Dear Editor,
19th July 2021: “Anger over Cheshire East Consultation to charge over 85’s for alarms” (Belinda Ryan)

I read this article with interest – after all, I was the Cabinet member in 2015 who oversaw the implementation of this policy.

Cllr Corcoran asked; “Is it fair that a wealthy 86-year-old receives free telecare when a less well-off 67-year-old in greater need has to pay”? – if only the answer were that simple!

The policy was based on the shared experiences of both the Council and our NHS partners.

The extreme elderly with multiple long-term conditions and increased frailty were (and remain) over-represented in emergency admissions to hospital.

They have longer than average hospital stays and those that live alone, are more likely to be discharged to permanent care homes (Age Concern 2019).

Just last week at the first CEC Adults and Health Committee meeting, Officers confirmed that CEC is “a national outlier for discharges to care homes from Hospital”.

Government allocates “Better Care Funding” to Councils to be spent in partnership with health partners to improve the quality and efficiency of health and care services.

CE partners acknowledged that the frail, extreme elderly living alone were especially vulnerable and that costs rise rapidly in this age group.

A basic telecare package was seen as an effective use of scarce resources to reduce the impact of trips, falls, sudden medical episodes such as urinary or chest infections to prevent hospital admissions and reduce the significant costs to tax-payer.

CEC states in their consultation that 1,234 people currently receive free telecare (but don’t state how many are over 85 living alone or are those entitled to free telecare due to low income).

But ‘assuming’ all are over 85 years old and live alone, this costs £321,000 per year.

The average cost of a residential or nursing home is £31,392 to £42,624 per year.

If cutting the service results in just seven to ten residents requiring emergency hospital admission and then discharge to residential or nursing care, any telecare savings are wiped out (and that’s before we include the costs of hospital care – a hip replacement for example would add an average of £9,654 to the cost).

As CEC has higher than average numbers of discharges from hospital to care homes, the removal of this policy suggests a ‘false economy’.

So back to Cllr Corcoran’s question; is it right to focus on the over 85s living alone?

Yes, because for a start, many are not ‘wealthy’ (let’s avoid generalisations), but importantly, real savings come not by stopping the service, but by providing a service that enables this small cohort to remain at home for longer, ensuring vital resources remain available at the front line to provide vital health and social care services for others.

Cllr Corcoran is right to be concerned about younger residents who also need telecare but can be assured (if he hasn’t already checked) that assessed telecare services remain free for ALL residents who are unable to pay, irrespective of age.


Cllr Janet Clowes
Wybunbury Ward


Briefing: Health and Care of Older People in England 2019 (July 2019)

Cheshire East Council: Consultation Material

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