HC Deb 16 June 1992 vol 209 cc770-1
9. Mr. Bradley

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to develop alternatives to the institutional care of elderly people.

Mr. Yeo

We are taking forward a wide range of measures to encourage the development and co-ordination of health and social services for elderly people, and to promote choice and independence.

Mr. Bradley

I invite the Minister—or, preferably, the Secretary of State—to visit my constituency to see at first hand the high-quality alternative provision by Manchester city council. The elderly persons' resource centre, known as the Minehead centre, is a model which should be replicated throughout the country. It provides services for people in their homes and in the centre, co-ordinated by social services and the health authority. Since its opening, there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of elderly people seeking residential care in its catchment area. If the Government would make capital money available to local authorities, such centres could be opened throughout the country. Will the Minister visit the centre to see for himself what can be achieved by proper local authority provision?

Mr. Yeo

I welcome the fact that the hon. Gentleman, unlike so many of his colleagues, has chosen to highlight some good practices. There are other good things happening in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. The community health services have had a care team working with general practices and social services to maintain elderly people in their own homes, there is a new proposal for a hospital at home scheme to enable a number of elderly people to be rehabilitated in their homes, and the community care plan for elderly people in the district has been produced jointly by the health and social services and the voluntary sector. Those provisions reflect the additional help that we are giving in the community. Nationally, there are 37 per cent. more day places, 28 per cent. more home helps, 12 per cent. more meals on wheels and 19 per cent. more community nurses. Those are all Government achievements since 1979.

Mr. Ian Bruce

Does my hon. Friend agree that the provision of care for the elderly through the private sector has developed some homely accommodation? Does he welcome Dorset Care Association's publication of a document giving a charter for the care of people in their homes, to be launched at the beginning of July?

Mr. Yeo

I certainly welcome that charter, a copy of which has been sent to us. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to identify the innovative work carried out by the private sector. It is because we want to see that work extended that we have invited local authorities to bid for £6 million to develop over the next three years more innovative schemes, particularly involving the private and voluntary sectors, to improve the range and responsiveness of day and domiciliary services so that more elderly people and others can stay in their own homes.