Kicking over the traces: Transforming Community Equipment Services (UK)

The output from the Transforming Community Equipment Services Project was posted on the Care Services Efficiency Delivery (CSED) website on 25 May. For something so potentially significant for the underpinning fabric of the UK’s social and health care systems; thousands of people employed by community equipment services; the equipment supply industry and millions of people who have care needs that can be supported by equipment, one wonders why it has not been considered significant enough to be headlined on CSIP’s website (CSED’s umbrella organisation), or featured in a press release by the Department of Health.

Now cast as Transforming Community Equipment and Wheelchair Services (TCEWS), it is not possible to determine what the implications are for specific types of equipment such as telecare, communication aids, equipment for people with sensory problems, or, indeed, wheelchairs. It’s all much too ‘high level’ for that.

On the subject of that acronym I think a more appropriate one might have been TraCES as – for good or ill – that is all there will be left of statutory community equipment provision if these proposals for a market driven approach are widely adopted. However, the potential winners are:
• The Disabled Living Foundation (DLF), the Foundation for Assistive Technology (FAST) and Ricability which could transform into properly funded information/accreditation organisations. This would be a great outcome.
• Equipment suppliers who will benefit from more sales and less recycling of equipment. eBay might do well too. (See also the ‘Tech bargains’ story below.)
• The new workforce of independent assessors.
• People who need equipment who can afford to contribute to the cost. But that’s everyone these days, of course.

The potential losers? Just about everyone else, but particularly councils who, until they find legal ways to limit their spending, will need to make massive provision to meet the funding commitments that will be made on their behalf by the independent assessors.

This is an important issue, so I’ve gone on at some length although Telecare Aware isn’t the place to dwell on these proposals. Download the four documents and comment to the TCEWS Programme Manager, lucia.fiveash@dh.gsi.gov.uk and go along to the events being organised. For readers with a sensitive disposition I should point out that the documents have not been well proof read. In particular, I note that after a year of working with one of the major stakeholders in this project, the British Healthcare Trades Association, someone was unable to get its name right!

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