A MAJOR shake-up of adult social care is about to be launched in Worcestershire in a frantic response to demographic pressures.
Worcestershire County Council says it wants to overhaul its in-house service based on a 'three conversation model' with the vulnerable.
The Advertiser understands the idea is being viewed with concern by some frontline adult social workers.
Bosses at County Hall say they want to "significantly" reduce the number of discussions with older people about setting up tailored support packages for them.
They want to intervene earlier in the lives of vulnerable people and set up what officials call 'emergency plans' to keep them out of residential care settings, working alongside the likes of the NHS and third sector.
But a briefing sheet on it cites some of the aims being 'no waiting lists', 'no referrals' and 'no hand-offs', calling it a 'significant cultural and behavioural change'.
It also says the county council could halve its 'conversion rate' of the numbers of vulnerable people who seek active support needing "long-term packages", saving money.
It says: "If we change our response to people in crisis, we have a major impact on long-term spend."
A potential timeline has been produced for the new simplified service, with the aim of rolling it out across the county by February 2018.
Some of the early details around how it will work have been discussed by the council's adult care overview and scrutiny panel.
Richard Keble, assistant director for adult services, said: "Money is clearly important, but if you over-push the point of using more money you lose focus of what you are doing."
But Peter Pinfield, from watchdog Healthwatch, told him: "This is a significant change for the people of Worcestershire.
"Most of us have been used to people going into homes to do things for us, this is a big cultural change.
"It will give more power back to service users, but there's got to be resources behind it.
"I see this as very much a changed policy where a lot more responsibility goes on the families out there to support people, rather than professionals."
Councillor Sheila Blagg, the cabinet member for adult social care, said: "We need to get behind a 'community model' of help, otherwise the acute [hospital services] will always be the default option."
The council's budget in adult social care for 2017/18 is a whopping £131 million - 41 per cent of County Hall's total net spend of £318 million.
Just over 6,000 older people qualified for a council-funded social care package last year.
But the number of over-65s in the county is forecast to rise 37 per cent by 2030 to 167,000, while over-85s will surge 85 per cent to 29,900.
By Tom Edwards