Winter care pressures on Essex County Council have been the worst for five years, the council has said.
Peter Fairley, director for health and social care integration at Essex County Council (ECC), told a health scrutiny committee on February 5 there is significantly more demand on the system.
He said the council’s service placement team – which places elderly people in care homes and provides services at their homes – indicated it had to place double the amount of packages compared to this time last year.
And he admitted ECC was still feeling the effects of Allied Healthcare winding up its contracts with the council at the end of 2018.
The council funds a range of services including home support to speed up hospital discharges and admissions avoidance for elderly people.
He said: “From a numbers perspective there has been more capacity than there was in 2018 but from a social care perspective we have been describing it as the toughest winter in four of five years.
“Despite there being more capacity on paper to previous years in reality it probably hasn’t proved sufficient.
“There was more demand this winter maybe than we had anticipated. There have been challenges such as getting sourcing in the market.
“Our service placement team – the team effectively securing placements – were reporting they were doing double if not treble the number of placements compared to the previous winter year.
“Despite all of that the different systems have shown themselves to be resilient, but were under a lot of stress.”
He said that the delayed transfer of care rates are expected to go up – mainly around people awaiting care packages in homes and awaiting nursing home placements.
He added: “From our perspective we worked well with partners.
“For us it’s how we get even better at predicting the actual demand going to come forward – the level of demand was higher than anticipated.
“And we need to work with partners to plan better and as well as we can for next year.”
But over the course of the year, between April and November, he said the average performance has been better than the same time last year – there have been fewer delay days in total over the course of the year.
He said: “From our perspective in terms of the positives we have been working very closely with partners not just over the winter period but much earlier on.
“Although there are winter pressures colleagues would say that winter is no longer unique in terms of seasonal pressures.
“The planning started a long time ago – this time last year.
“That was really positive and we had had previous schemes and projects that we had invested in the previous winter, which we were able to reflect on and learn from.”