Technology solution to Suffolk adult care budget overspend

View of an elderly person's hand
Image caption Spending on adult social care will rise by 3% in Suffolk next year despite the budget shortfall

Technology could help reduce a £500,000 overspend in adult social care in Suffolk, the county council claims.

The authority said the true deficit is £3.7m, but one-off government payments and savings have offset the total.

But costs are due to rise in the next 20 years with the number of over-65s projected to increase by 54%.

Solutions could include using technology installed in the home, rather than visits by carers, to check if a patient has taken medication.

The £3.7m overspend represents 2% of the overall care budget.

The overspend is part of a £7.5m gap in the council's budget for 2018-2019 and plans to reduce the cost of adult social care, which supports adults with learning disabilities and older people, are now being drawn up.

Image caption Councillor Beccy Hopfensperger said

'Lessons learned'

Beccy Hopfensperger, adult social care cabinet member, said an attempt to save money by overhauling the service in 2015 proved unsuccessful.

She said the changes were unpopular with both care providers and elderly people and did not save money for the Conservative-controlled council.

"One of the most important lessons we learned is that there is a really strong relationship between the carer and the person receiving care," she said.

A report to the council's scrutiny committee showed costs could be cut by new technology - with devices checking if someone had got out of bed and was moving around or had taken medication.

"Technology will not replace one-to-one care, but could reduce and delay the need for it," the report stated.

But despite the overspend, Mrs Hopfensperger said her budget would increase by 3% next year and the council would find ways to prevent people needing expensive long-term care.

"We want them to stay at home for as long as possible so that they can live happy and fulfilling lives," she said.

Watch the full report in BBC Sunday Politics East, broadcast on 9 December.

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