Family and friends of those affected by the change – including relatives of dementia suffers – plus trade unionists gathered outside the council’s Time Square offices with signs and flags to make a stand for carers and patients.
The council claims it can save up to £150,000 per year if the clients of the service – where carers visit patients in their own homes –were served by private agencies. It says some of its service has already been ‘outsourced’.
But one of the protesters, whose family is affected by the change, believes the move is “very short-sighted”. Jackie Dudley, from Martin’s Heron, whose sister has suffered with dementia for two years, said: “I am all for supporting the carers and having people the sufferers recognise. This team is superb.
“I am worried be-cause – and no offence to them – but agencies do not have the same approach. It is very important that patients are able to recognise people and they stay if they need to.
“Bracknell Forest Council is getting a reputation of not caring, and not just about this issue.”
Frank Minal, GMB’s regional organiser of the protest for East Berkshire and Surrey, said: “We hope the council will rescind its decision. The quality of care is far higher with this team than what an agency could provide This decision will put more pressure on the NHS, forcing people to move out of their homes which they are comfortable in and into care homes or hospitals.”
The council is trying to reassure patients the decision will not alter the standard of care they receive.
Cllr Dale Birch, executive member for adult services, health and housing, said: “Everyone who needs our care and support will continue to get their care. This isn’t a cut to services, this is about getting the best deal and best services for those people we help. The in-house dementia team of 11 staff now provide care support to just nine people with independent care providers delivering dementia care support to 177 residents.
“This change would mean all our dementia care would be commissioned from high-quality independent providers, just as 97% of all home care in Bracknell Forest is already successfully commissioned from the independent sector.”