SOME local people are booking themselves into care homes and paying for it from their own pocket – years before they need to.

The claim was made at a BCP meeting on Monday evening discussing future care provision in the area.

Director of adult social care commissioning Phil Hornsby said it was difficult to pin down a specific reason why some people were making the move – but the result was that they would spend their savings earlier than they needed to.

He told councillors that better information and guidance about care choices for people who were looked after by the council, or for those who were self-funding, was crucial in making the right choices about care and to ensure that there was enough resources to help everyone who needed it.

Mr Hornsby told the health and adult social care overview and scrutiny committee that the authority was working on a vision for future adult social care which would not be limited to the elderly, but would also include working age adults who might need support.

He said there was to be a switch in emphasis towards early intervention, prevention, and promoting independence, trying to keep more people in their own homes – with better information about what the choices were.

Working with providers, the clinical commissioning group and others, including neighbouring Dorset Council, he said it was hoped they would create a common view about what local care would look like in the future.

Questioned about why care costs locally were higher than the national average he told the committee that a number of factors were involved but one of the main reasons was higher property prices and living costs locally which, in turn, often meant providers having to pay staff more.

He said that costs had been rising between 5 and 10 per cent a year, driven by the care providers who, in many cases, had found it increasingly difficult to maintain their profit margins faced with an fewer people wanting to go into residential care, a trend which had accelerated during the pandemic.

Mr Hornsby said that BCP council is also facing its own financial pressures with the £4.37m adults social care budget for 2021/22, expected to rise to £8.64m in 22/23 and to £10.81m in 23/24.

Fact file

The BCP Council area currently has 158 care homes – 113 catering for older people and 41 taking people with dementia. Between them there were 4,451 beds in June 2021 with vacancies running at 27 per cent.

The area also has 75 home care agencies and twelve housing schemes with 398 places identifies as extra care and 162 as ‘enhanced care’. Just two, with 80 places, are managed by BCP council and another two, with 90 places, by the arms-length Poole Housing Partnership. Of the rest three are managed by commercial organisations and five by social landlords.

People aged 65+ made up around 22% of the total BCP population in 2020, which will rise to over 27% by 2030.

By 2030, 21,357 people aged 75+ are predicted to live alone while the number of people aged 65+ who have dementia is predicted to rise from 6,643 in 2020 to 7,827 in 2030.

The number of people aged 65+ who have a limiting long-term illness is predicted to rise from 40,016 in 2020 to 47,216 in 2030 while people aged 65+ providing unpaid care is predicted to rise from 12,648 in 2020, to 14,814 in 2030.