Members of Denbighshire County Council’s Cabinet have agreed to consult on the future provision of the authority's in-house social care services.
On December 9, the council agreed a proposal to reduce the budget for in-house social care by £700k.
The council currently funds over 500 older people to live in care homes across Denbighshire, with just 54 - or 10% - of those living in the three care homes (Awelon, Ruthin, Dolwen in Denbigh and Cysgod y Gaer in Corwen).
Councillor Bobby Feeley, Cabinet Lead Member for Health and Social Care, said: “Older people frequently tell us that they want to live in their own homes as they get older, not move into residential care, so we want to explore how we can develop alternatives to this such as Extra Care Housing Schemes.
"Demand is steadily declining for 'standard' residential care, which is currently provided by LA homes (they do not provide nursing or dementia care), and we are working across county to provide alternatives such as Extra Care Housing Schemes, which are being developed in partnership with other Housing Associations/ housing providers in key communities across the county. Also enhanced care packages allow people to live at home independently for longer.
“Part of the consultation would be about what they think about the council supporting the development of more of this type of provision as an alternative to the three council owned residential care homes, which are a significantly more expensive to run than equivalent services provided by the third and independent sectors."
In relation to the 54 individuals living in Awelon, Dolwen and Cysgod y Gaer, many of them are likely to need to move into alternative settings as their needs increase and they develop needs for nursing or specialist elderly mental health care.
The council has given a commitment to ensure that they will not close any council owned care home if there are individuals living there whose needs can not be met in alternative provision.
Councillor Feeley added: “We recognise that any change can be upsetting for those involved and that is why we are starting a consultation during which, we will meet with residents and their relatives or representatives to explain how services could be provided and to gather their views on any changes. Part of the consultation will include an impact assessment for those affected.
“We would like to reassure service users and their families that we will work with them and support them throughout the process.
The consultation would include people living within the three Extra Care Housing Schemes (Gorwel Newydd, Rhyl, Nant y Mor, Prestatyn and Llys Awelon, Ruthin) where domiciliary care services are provided by the council. These housing schemes for older people are owned by Housing Associations, not the local authority, and the consultation would purely be about the provision of care services within these housing schemes. Arrangements for housing support or any other services in the building will not be affected so will not be included as part of this consultation.