Care homes need help to prevent 'huge crisis' in the industry
PUBLISHED: 08:51 02 October 2017 | UPDATED: 09:12 02 October 2017
Nursing homes need billions of pounds' worth of investment to prevent more from closing and causing a huge crisis, according to the regional chairman of the Registered Nursing Home Association.
Gordon Butcher says the care sector is in a ‘shambolic mess’ after years of under-funding from central government.
Two nursing homes in Weston, two in Clevedon and one in Pill have closed in recent few months – a loss of 160 beds – and Mr Butcher warns more will follow unless the Government takes drastic action to increase funding.
He said: “Central government has not invested in the care sector for about a decade. It’s a shambolic mess and it’s getting worse by the week.
“We are getting a tremendous amount of people needing end-of-life care which we have never had before.
“Staffing levels of a hospice are phenomenal but we are expected to provide that care for a fraction of the fee.
“It’s a crisis and it’s going to get a lot worse. Hospitals are also going to face the brunt as well due to a shortage of nursing home beds.”
Mr Butcher says nursing homes are closing or re-registering as residential homes as they are not getting enough money to care for an increasing number of people with complex conditions.
Nursing homes provide 24-hour care and require nursing staff, whereas residential look after people who are more mobile and require less one-to-one help. The industry is also facing a staffing crisis.
Mr Butcher added: “Over the past years we have seen a massive relocating of local nurses going from the private sector to the hospital trust.
“Unlike hospitals, nursing homes do not have the operational ability to close beds or wings when nursing cover is not available. The only option is to contract agency staff at a cost ranging from £32 per hour to £64 per hour.
“Nursing homes get £3.90 per hour from councils and this is for nursing care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and all meals. Any home having to operate on agency staff will soon haemorrhage money at a non-sustainable rate.
“Nursing homes are now finding the recruitment of care assistants very difficult. Why should anyone work for a living wage when they can make more in Tesco or in a residential home where the workload is lighter?
“Those homes who are able to attract many private clients are able to stay financially buoyant because the higher fees generated from self-funders allows a care home to pay staff above the minimum rates.
“The government recently announced it would be giving local authorities an addition £2billion over three years for the care sector — this amount is too little too late.
“The adult care sector has been under-invested for decades and now we are seeing the result. Last year we saw for the first time more beds lost than new ones being built and this is going to accelerate. Funding has got to increase substantially.”
North Somerset’s MPs agree. Weston MP John Penrose said: “The £2billion extra cash is an important step in the right direction. It’s a heck of a lot of taxpayers’ money however you look at it, but we still need a long-term solution.
“British society is getting older and, whether it’s for ourselves or other members of our families, we all want to know that there’ll be proper care when we reach that stage of our lives.
“As promised during the General Election, ministers have launched a consultation so society can decide how we want to deal with this issue. It’s going on as we speak, and I expect it to come up with cross-party plans for closer and better working between community carers and NHS staff, and options for longer-term funding too.”