THE daughter of a frail 90-year-old woman has criticised the ‘unfairness’ of her mother’s care costs rising by 35 per cent.
Lynne Snowball’s mother lives in Mayflower Court extra care sheltered housing, in Yarm Road, Darlington.
Mrs Snowball, of Middleton St George, said her mother manages to maintain a level of independence in her own flat in the complex and receives ‘excellent care’ from staff.
She is faced with a 32.6 per cent rise in her mother’s hourly care costs, which Mrs Snowball describes as an ‘unacceptable level of increase’.
This is in addition to an earlier increase of two per cent, applied to personal care services, which came into force in October.
In a letter to Councillor Veronica Copeland, cabinet member for adult social care, Mrs Snowball sets out her objections to the increase, while also recognising the pressures on council budgets.
She wrote: “In no other circumstances would an increase of 35 per cent in a year be tolerated.
“It is being inflicted on the most vulnerable people, mainly the frail and very elderly, who have no options open to them in the delivery of the services essential to their daily life.
“The rate is extremely high against anything people outside the care service would pay for laundry or cleaning.
“In my mother’s case, she pays fully for her care, having had to sell her first floor family flat that she had lived in for 53 years to pay for her care.”
Mrs Snowball said the new level of charges will take up a large proportion of her mother’s pension income and she will have to draw on her limited savings.
During the cost-cutting process in recent years, council chiefs have always stressed the importance of protecting adult social care.
But Mrs Snowball accused the council of not adopting an open and transparent consultation process over this issue.
She added: “The council has written [to users] about the proposals to transfer personal care services to a private provider. There was no mention in of fee increases in any correspondence.
“Inadequate notice has been given of the increases – I was given only five days notice of a meeting with my mother to explain the changes, which are then being introduced after a further two months only.
“The council has not provided written proposals of the changes or given reasons for making them.”
Her letter to Coun Copeland, copied to council leader Bill Dixon, concluded: “The consultation has been framed in such a way as to limit the nature of comments that can be made.
“I hope you will take the significant concerns fully into account and recognise the unfairness of the changes on the most vulnerable people, people like my mother, who have contributed so much to our communities over the years and who now need the support of it.”
The council said it was unable to comment on individual cases.
A spokeswoman added: “Every service is under review, including charges regarding people’s personal care.
“In line with our fairer contributions policy, we have carried out assessments to identify where people have the financial means to contribute to their personal care.
“Out of more than 150 cases, this has affected less than 20 per cent of people.
“We can reassure residents that we will continue to work with families to meet the care needs of people in Darlington."