Critical incident declared in Cornwall over adult social care
Cornwall Council has declared a critical incident in adult social care after what it described as "extraordinary circumstances".
The announcement - in conjunction with the NHS - means health bosses are concerned they cannot provide enough priority services.
The authority says it will redeploy its staff into different roles to meet demand.
It is also calling on volunteers to help free up 100 hospital beds within two weeks.
The council will work with seventy home care providers and more than two hundred care homes to support people who have finished hospital treatment.
Councillors also want to reduce ambulance waiting times by repurposing services and working with people in the community.
'Unable to meet demand'
Cllr Andy Virr, Cabinet Member for Care and Wellbeing, said: "These extraordinary circumstances require a different level of response in our care system, which is currently unable to meet demand - particularly for hospital discharges.
"This approach will see us work as one system, sharing risk in order to meet these increased demands, and I'd like to say a big thank you to those families and service users who are helping support us in this.
"And if you have a friend or neighbour who was recently discharged from hospital, please consider how you might be able to help in their recovery.
"It can be something as simple as running an errand or making a phone call to check they're OK.
"These small acts of kindness can make all the difference."
"It's the right thing in terms of 'what's the greatest risk now?'"
He added: "We're also looking at care at home and whether someone who maybe has a large package of care, maybe someone who has four visits a day, could go down to two and that to be safely supported - maybe by the voluntary sector or by family freeing up those carers for people who haven't got care at the moment, either still in their homes or waiting to get home from hospital."
Cllr Virr also said that the council is "probably going to have to stop doing some things", like the learning disability respite.
"We want to convert that respite unit into a care home for a few months and obviously that is a difficult decision to make but it's the right thing in terms of 'what's the greatest risk now?'
"It's our hospitals under pressure and people not receiving care in their own homes", he said.
"That's just wrong."
But responding to this announcement, Keith Judkins at West Cornwall HealthWatch said the council is "having to rob Peter to pay Paul."
He said: "I think the thing that concerns me the most is not the proposal not so much to down-skill the provision so that some of it's provided by less skilled people... but a lot of it's now going to be removed from people say, with learning difficulties, to favour people with physical disabilities. That's just wrong.
"And it seems to me and to us in West Cornwall HealthWatch that they're having to rob Peter to pay Paul."