By Debbie le Quesne

Crisis talks on future of care homes

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Yesterday’s BBC news tells us that crisis talks were taking place between care home owners and council leaders “amid mounting concern a large number of providers are preparing to pull out of the market.”

I am not surprised.

Latest figures reveal 37,000 beds – nearly 10 per cent – could be lost by 2020.

Why? Inadequate fees paid by councils and the additional costs of meeting the national living wage.

The Beeb informs that charities will also be represented at the meeting in London “with all sides calling for extra funding ahead of next week’s spending review.”

Pressure on the Chancellor really is mounting . . . Good, I say.

Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, is reported as saying: “Faced with increasing costs and falling fee levels, many smaller care providers will go to the wall, jeopardising the care of thousands of vulnerable people.”

On the agenda was contingency planning for mass home closures and the collapse of many small providers.

Age UK and Carers UK were represented alongside some of the big care companies and council chiefs.

And here’s a nugget: There are more than 400,000 elderly care home residents in England with more than half council-funded in part.

In the West Midlands the picture is worse with somewhere near 80 per cent of homes reliant on council-funded occupancy. And of course, at West Midlands Care Association we too are lobbying and presenting data to support better funding. Martin Green is doing a good job here, but be assured he’s not the only one in the fight.

Currently WMCA is in talks with all our local authorities and members are being encouraged to respond to council surveys on the specific costs of care. We have a duty to be public on this and ‘tell it as it is’. Not responding, sadly, serves only to strengthen the argument for not hiking up fees.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said future spending on care would be decided by the spending review and assured “no-one will be left without care if a home close.”

Cold comfort, indeed, don’t you think?


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