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Major shake-up for ‘telecare’ service
YORK’S emergency warden call service which caters for thousands of vulnerable and elderly people in their own homes is facing a major shake-up which will take it largely out of council hands.
City of York Council is negotiating with staff and unions over plans to run The Community Equipment Loan and Warden Call/Telecare Service (CELTAS) as a non-profit “social enterprise”.
The Press understands the plan would see CELTAS run by its current staff, trading independently of the council.
The service has experienced huge increase in demand in the past decade and the council said that although the change would bring uncertainty initially, staff could have a greater say in the service thereafter.
A business plan is expected to go before the council’s cabinet in March, though some have questioned the process and said it should not be simply a “cost-cutting exercise”.
Conservative group health spokesman Coun Paul Doughty said: “It’s not necessarily important who the service provider is but there must be no diminishment in the service provided and the council administration should be careful not to simply see this as a way of cost cutting.”
Bob Towner, of York Older People’s Assembly, said his organisation had been extremely supportive of the service and he “did not understand what the reasons were behind the decision to change the way the service is delivered”.
CELTAS currently provides a 24-hour monitoring and response service to about 3,000 people in York, while the telecare service has more than 1,600 customers. Users of the service pay £4.10 per week.
Graham Terry, the council’s assistant director of adult commissioning, modernisation and provision, said the service has experienced 142 per cent growth since 2004 which was an “excellent foundation on which to build its future success as a not-for-profit, ‘asset locked’ social enterprise”.
He said: “As such it will be able to trade, access grants and achieve savings for the council whilst continuing to expand its workforce to meet future demand. Our staff have helped write the vision, mission and values for the report.
"While being understandably uncertain about the future until the decision has been finalised, a social enterprise can give them a greater say and stake in the future of the service and staff workshops have been run alongside work with the trades unions.”