Monday 23 July 2007

Council Used Telephone Interview to End Hot Meals-on-Wheels Service to 79 Year Old Sufferer of Dementia

I received an urgent call from Ray and Christine Revell nine days ago, about their elderly aunt who had her meals-on-wheels service stopped by H&F Council. Mr. Revell explained that the Council had decided to end the hot food deliveries after undertaking a telephone interview with the 79 year old lady who suffers from dementia. He told me that he and his wife “are worried sick” after they had received the letter on July 14th informing him that their aunt’s (who they don’t want to be named) hot meals would be stopped on July 17th.

H&F Council’s use of telephone interviews to determine an elderly person’s needs seems a highly dubious practice and I have written to seek a full explanation. Telephone interviews are being undertaken to help facilitate a targeted £100,000 saving to the meals-on-wheels budget - set by the Conservative Administration. The Council is also using this technique to qualify the numbers of elderly, sick and disabled local residents using its home care services as well.

Cllr. Stephen Greenhalgh (Con) told me at last week’s cabinet meeting that he has a hands-off approach saying “we trust our officers to get on with itwhen explaining why he and his team couldn’t answer any of the questions about the cuts in the home care services. The officer with responsibility for this policy is Mr. James Reilly, the Director of Community Services. I wrote to him asking that the service is immediately re-instated for Mr and Mrs Revell’s aunt. I have also asked Mr. Reilly the following questions about his scheme:

1. Why he thought telephone interviews were an appropriate means of testing all of the elderly for eligibility to essential services?
2. How does his department identify which people to assess?
3. What criteria are used during the assessment to determine the outcome?
4. What precisely does each assessment involve?
5. How many people have been given a telephone assessment and what were the results?
6. How many people have had their delivery of hot food ended in the last fourteen months?

I understand from Mr. Revell that his aunt’s deliveries have been temporarily re-instated. Mr. Reilly hasn’t yet been able to answer any of the above questions. I will let you know when I get a response.

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