Shire Hall is planning a major shake-up of the way it cares for disabled people in Gloucestershire.
The county council is aiming for a “complete culture change” to put the thousands of people with a disability or long term health problem at the heart of their care.
The authority’s Conservative cabinet today gave its backing to a new way of working which will place a firm emphasis on people making their own decisions, choosing the services they want.
Caring for the disabled costs the county council approximately £80 million a year – about 20 per cent of its total budget.
And with increasing demand for services and the council’s funding shrinking as a result of Government cuts it is vital the authority makes the most of the money it has.
The current system of having earmarked budgets for certain disability care areas and teams of people which deal with different needs results in ‘pigeon-holing’, according to the council.
The new system will be more about independence, choice and ultimately treating people as people and not as a diagnosis.
Councillor Kathy Williams (C, Longlevens), cabinet member for long term care, described the shift as a “complete culture change”.
“This is about the whole policy of how we deliver care,” she said.
“It is about personalised care and it is about changing people’s expectations.
“There is an expectation that young disabled people will go in to the traditional care system but we are finding that people want to go into work etc.
“This is about making sure that people are put in the right position to make choices and that they are able to get the care they want.
“It is about listening to what people with disabilities and their carers want rather than us, the council, saying ‘we know best’ which is what we have done in the past.”
She added: “People often see a disability, rather than a person. We want to get to a position where it is more about the person.”
The county council wants to help disabled people as early in life as possible and to make the transition from childhood to adulthood smoother.
Councillor Lesley Williams (Lab, Stonehouse), leader of the county’s Labour group, said: “My concern is how this will be managed. It has to be managed in such a way that it benefits the person who is actually spending the money.
“It is society that does the disabling. The more we can stop that, so there is the tolerance and acceptance that we are all different, the better.”
The county council will now consult key stakeholders on its plans.