Radical changes in the way Birmingham organises social care will mean the end of traditional old people?s homes.

The city council cabinet has approved a new emphasis on care in the community and a move away from institutional care.

Most of the council?s own old people?s homes, which fail to meet Government health and safety standards, will be demolished and replaced by a network of extra-care sheltered housing. The council will also provide special care centres with residential and nonresidential services for older people with more complex needs.

But the biggest driver of the new system will be a turnaround in the way care is financed.

At the moment 65 per cent of the budget for older people pays for 4,000 places in residential care. By comparison, 35 per cent of the budget provides 10,400 communitybased packages of care.

By 2010 the council aims to commit 45 per cent of the budget to care in the community, compared with 23 per cent at the moment. The amount spent on residential care will be cut from 68 per cent to 30 per cent.

Home care services will be more sharply focused to help older people live independently and stay out of residential care for longer, according to social care cabinet member Sue Anderson.

When people could no longer look after themselves their clearly expressed preference was to move into extra-care housing where they could maintain an element of independence, she added.

Coun Anderson (Lib Dem Sheldon) said almost one-third of Birmingham citizens would be aged between 50 and 85 by

2022. The council had to change the way it provided services in order to meet demand.

An extensive public consultation exercise resulted in 75 per cent backing for care in the community, but Coun Anderson vowed to continue to work to persuade doubters that changes would be best.

Describing extra-care sheltered housing as ? more sophisticated warden-controlled properties?, Coun Anderson promised 24-hour cover seven days a week.

The social services department is developing ?virtual? extra-care complexes on CD roms to show to pensioners.