Concerns for the future of respite care have been raised after council plans to cut beds were revealed.
Cheshire East currently pays for respite beds in private care homes so people caring for loved ones can have breaks.
But bosses say there are issues with ‘low occupancy’ and are planning to slash the number of permanent respite beds available in care homes from 18 to 10.
Councillor Laura Jeuda says the issues with low occupancy is not due to lack of demand, but a drop in confidence in the respite care system following the closure of Hollins View respite support.
Coun Jeuda, who represents Macclesfield South, said: “It’s not that there isn’t demand for respite care. It doesn’t make sense to cut the number of beds.
“Respite care is so important to give carers a real break. We don’t know where the beds are going to be yet. I spoke to a woman the other day whose husband had to go to Audlem for care. We need to keep respite care in Macclesfield.”
Cheshire East currently commissions five respite beds in Macclesfield. It closed Hollins View care home - which provided 30 permanent beds in Macclesfield - in December 2015 despite a campaign by the Express to keep it open.
A report issued to the Health and Adult Social Care and Communities Scrutiny Committee initially recommended the provision of just four beds across the county alongside ‘alternative respite’ care.
But Coun Janet Clowes, cabinet member for adult social care and integration, has since confirmed the recommendations are for 10 beds to be retained, with additional beds commissioned on a case by case basis.
She said: “The current offer of respite care was intended to enable carers to access respite in a variety of geographical locations. However, there are issues with low occupancy and, as the system operates on block provision (where providers get paid a block amount of money even if the beds are not occupied) it means that some of the beds are remaining unoccupied. There is, therefore, a need to review the current provision, to ensure it delivers real choice, value for money and the best outcomes for respite care users.
“Carers have told us that they want an alternative respite offer to the bed-based services that are currently available. The council is now carrying out a review and consulting with carers and other stakeholders about how the alternative respite provision should be delivered in order to more effectively and efficiently provide the right support, in the right place, at the right time.”
The new proposal is due to go before Cabinet next month and will be followed by a consultation.