New plan wait for pensioner

A pensioner has criticised Hertfordshire County Council after changes to his care scheme took four months to implement. Barry Piper, of The Close, Royston, had been trying to switch care arrangements for himself and his wife Julie over to the direct paym

A pensioner has criticised Hertfordshire County Council after changes to his care scheme took four months to implement.

Barry Piper, of The Close, Royston, had been trying to switch care arrangements for himself and his wife Julie over to the direct payment system, which sees service users given a budget with which they arrange their own care.

Both have suffered strokes.

Despite starting the process in January, a series of financial assessments meant the switch was completed only last week.


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Mr Piper, 65, said: "The Government wants everyone to be on direct payments by 2010, but the process of changing is really complex.

"There are so many forms to fill out.

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"A lot of vulnerable people are involved, who don't have family to help and support them, and I think they will struggle to cope."

Mr Piper says he feels more help should be made available to service users.

"Too much emphasis is put on individuals to do things themselves," he said.

"Of course people want their independence but there needs to be support available too."

"There are some very skilled social workers, but they are constrained by the rules that are in place.

"I've tried phoning the council's help line several times, but either got no response, or was asked to leave a message."

A spokesman for Hertfordshire County Council said: "Financial assessments have to be carried out before a service user changes to direct payments.

"Although this took some time in this case, direct payment is now in place, and all payments have been backdated accordingly."

The spokesman added that the council had received no complaints about its helpline.

Earlier this month, members of Royston Stroke Club told The Crow they felt they had not been fully informed about all the options available to them, following the county council's decision to switch care provider from Carewatch to Careforce.

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