Councils accused of abandoning old people

Councils have been accused of abandoning the elderly by not paying enough to look after them, with the majority of councils having made no increase in what they pay care homes in the last year.

A study by Care England, the organisation that represents independent care providers, show that council fees are failing to keep pace with rising costs. The research finds that many care homes are having to make difficult decisions to either close services or refuse council placements despite increasing numbers of vulnerable people requiring places.

Having contacted every council across England requesting them to provide details on their base rates for older people residential and nursing care home placements in 2018/19, Care England says that a number of providers are now having to turn away council placement, which in turn increases the pressure on the struggling NHS.

The reply showed that one in five councils made no increase in the baseline rate for nursing home beds; 18 per cent of councils reported that they gave no increase for nursing with dementia beds; and 22 per cent of councils reported no increase for residential care home beds, including residential care beds for older people with Dementia.

Care England analysis also showed a projected 7.5 per cent jump in the number of older people in care homes by 2020. That would require an extra 33,000 staff at a cost of an additional £581 million.

Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said: “These councils pay care homes just £350 a week for 24hr care, seven days a week. By failing to properly fund their care, they are abandoning old people. To give no real increase in fees when costs have risen by over four per cent is an insult. Our society is institutionally ageist. Older people are treated like a problem to be tolerated rather than something to be cherished. You just cannot run a care home and give the optimum amount of care on a pittance. No wonder care homes are closing and there is a growing crisis in the number of places for the elderly."

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Over recent years, councils have protected adult social care relative to other services. But the scale of the overall funding picture for local government as a whole means adult social care services still face a £3.6 billion funding gap by 2025, just to maintain existing standards of care.

“The sad reality is that the underfunding of the sector is threatening the quality of care on offer for older and disabled people and its availability. This means that an increasing number of providers are either pulling out of public contracts or going out of business. The current system of social care is unsustainable and will buckle under the weight of demand. We are calling on government to urgently publish its much-delayed adult social care green paper to resolve the long-term future of care and support and provide a sustainable solution to these essential services.”