By Debbie le Quesne

Crumbs of comfort welcome, but the problem is still not fixed    

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I have concluded that a good barometer for the condition of the care sector can be the number of reports that land on my desk and the time I DON’T have to read newspapers.

Thank goodness for online material where I can catch up.

I picked up on piece by Paul Burstow in the Guardian where the former Minister of Sate for Care Services was reminding us what Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, told a local government audience.

It went along the lines that families should take more responsibility of caring for the loved-ones. Hunt then called for a national debate about caring for the elderly.

The comment at Local Government Association’s conference rattled more than a few boxes.

It’s easy to see why in the recent Carers UK State of Caring report which outlines the huge price that is paid, physically, psychologically and financially

What will happen to those without children? Ageing Without Children highlighted that as many as one in five over 50 have not had children.

Burstow, who I met in London at the Care Alliance meeting, poses the question: Will there be enough good quality care to support those without families in their old age? Will it meet their needs and lifestyles?

He goes on to write that there are fears that “a major provider the care home sector” will collapse, reasserting the gloom-laden forecast he made earlier in the year. Let’s not go there.

Certainly the news – especially for providers aligned to the West Midlands Care Association – has been bleak.

Perhaps one of the most telling bits of news was from Radio 4’s You and Yours programme where it was stated that around 5,600 care homes could go bust within three years. That’s one in four.

With other care providers, associations and representatives, we have lobbied the Department of Health about the continued squeeze on fees and delivered strong messages about the implications of the living wage.

In practical terms the only monies that have been generated are from the introduction of the adult social care precept, but in many areas it’s balancing the books for a previous year’s provision.

Let me quote Burstow’s piece, published at the end of May: “The trouble is that the precept yields its best returns in the areas where the care home market is more buoyant because of the higher rates of occupancy by self-funders. Those areas most dependent on the precept will raise the least and still be dependent on state funding.”

In fairness, Burstow does temper the misery with a heartening story about registered manager Blesson Thomas, who steered a care home to an outstanding CQC rating.

Key to the success was his approach to his staff, setting up career paths, and allowing them opportunity to showcase talents. As Burstow puts it, Thomas unleashed the potential in the care workforce.

We take comfort in every success story, but as Burstow rightly points out the Government still needs to find a plan that will work for the sector.


Written by debbielq

July 4, 2016 at 11:51 am

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