A funding boost of £328,000 from the Scottish government for the care of older people was welcomed by head of community care Christine Ferguson this week.
Mrs Ferguson said at a meeting of the council’s services committee that the money would be used to build on existing services, which are very much geared to supporting people in their own homes through the use of new technology and telecare.
Keeping care as close to home as possible is the “direction of travel” of the community care service, which aims to take people out of the “institutional settings” of acute hospital wards and long-term residential care.
This is already being implemented, with the former interim placement unit (IPU) at Montfield Hospital now being empty.
At present the £328,000 is the only confirmed amount, but this may continue in future years depending on the new Scottish government.
The community care service also aims, as one of its stated performance measures, to decrease overall spend on institutional care setting by £500,000 in 2011-12. This money will instead go into primary care or nursing care, all part of the move to “shift the balance of care” into community-based services. Councillors at the meeting approved this plan.
Mrs Ferguson also spoke about the need to raise the profile of carers and to support them. It was important for people who acted as carers, including young carers, to recognise themselves as such. She said transport was being looked at as a way to enable carers “to travel and enjoy a full life”.
To this end another carers’ cruise is to take place this year. Mrs Ferguson said such a cruise, on Shetland ferries and visits various parts of Shetland, has already taken place twice and been a huge success.