Elderly care review in Stoke-on-Trent will 'weed out' problems, say campaigners
HOME care bosses have pledged a zero tolerance approach to failures as part of a major citywide review into standards.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has now agreed to a formal review of the care delivered to vulnerable and elderly residents in their own homes.
It will see a task group of scrutiny councillors formed to examine services.
A random sample of hundreds of residents will be interviewed about their experiences and members of the North Staffordshire Pensioners' Convention are to be invited to work alongside the authority as part of its inquiries.
Panasonic Store Camera•20x Optical Zoom LEICA DC Lens from 24mm...View details
What Digital camera Gold award winning DMCTZ40
SAVE £20 off our store price ONLY with this voucher
Plus you can also claim a SD card or spare battery
Choice of colours, free parking behind store
Terms: Print this voucher and hand in at Panasonic Store Hanley to save £20 off our store price ONLY £269.90
Contact: 01782 342609
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
An external organisation will then be asked to examine the council's findings.
The convention triggered the review after collecting a petition backed by more than 8,000 people including city MPs Tristram Hunt and Rob Flello.
About 50 of its supporters attended a meeting of the council's adults' services scrutiny committee yesterday, where councillors formally agreed to the examination of home care standards.
Tony Oakman, the council's director for adult and neighbourhood services, told the committee his department will not tolerate failure – and urged people with complaints to come forward.
He said: "We will not tolerate poor standards, or a quality of care or services that doesn't meet people's needs.
"We want to hear about situations where individuals may feel they are not getting the service the deserve. If somebody does not tell us, we can't put it right.
"Sometimes there has been a sense that there might be a kick back or consequence if people speak out. I can say categorically that this does not happen and if it does there is going to be a problem.
"We have suspended services and had staff removed, suspended and disciplined, but I am glad to say it is the exception."
The pensioners' group was initially angered that the review is not being carried out until early next year but agreed to support it after Mr Oakman, pictured, provided a series of reassurances.
Officers asked to delay the review until next February as the £7.1 million-per-year home care contract, delivered through eight companies, is due to expire.
North Staffordshire Pensioners' Convention has raised concerns about access to services, and standards of care.
Andy Day, the convention's co-ordinator, said: "Members are concerned that there is going to be a long delay. However, we accept the decision if the review is going to be in depth, has sufficient time, is open to public scrutiny and involves the pensioners' convention.
" We don't want to come along and just be told 'new contracts are in place to deal with all of that', because we don't believe they will have done and the issues need to be taken seriously."
Committee chairman Bagh Ali said: "It is important for us all and this committee is serious about it."
Councillor Randy Conteh, who represents Penkhull and Stoke, said: "I'm extremely frustrated about the delay in getting this set up but I do welcome an in-depth review. They might be certain individual cases, but one case is too many. We need to weed out the perpetrators."