Measures to stabilise local care market announced
Following a period of engagement with Gloucestershire’s independent care market at the end of 2021, a series of recommendations will be discussed by the county council’s cabinet when it meets next week (30 March).
The proposals will help shape the future of the county’s independent health and social care market, making sure it can meet the changing and more complex needs of residents.
As well as being asked to agree to developing new services that support people to stay independent at home for as long as possible and helps protect and maintain their physical and mental wellbeing, the county council’s Cabinet will be asked to consider a proposal to consult for six weeks on the closure of four of its existing care homes:
- Orchard House, Bishops Cleeve, Tewkesbury
- Westbury Court, Westbury, Forest of Dean
- Bohanam House, Gloucester
- The Elms, Stonehouse, Stroud
Results of the recent market engagement highlighted the following:
- 86% of providers told us that they had been negatively impacted because of the Covid19 pandemic
- 70% of providers told us that loss of income had had a moderate-high impact on their business.
- For care homes the loss of resident income from both private and public funded sources has negatively impacted their financial stability
- Recruitment, and retention of staff was seen as a key challenge across the entire care market
- Providers have also stated that increased costs at the start of the pandemic related to equipment, staffing and PPE has continued to increase.
- There is often a requirement for extra space, equipment and training linked to the individual care and support in order to meet more complex needs. Providers felt that the forward impact of the pandemic is likely to exacerbate these costs.
Demand for standard residential care home places has been falling consistently for the past five years. At the same time, more people are wanting to be cared for at home.
99% of Gloucestershire residents (of all ages) who responded to a survey at the end of last year said it was ‘very important’ or ‘quite important’ to be supported by community-based care so they could stay in their own home for longer.
To further support people’s stronger desire to stay at home for longer, the Cabinet, at the same meeting, is also being asked to agree a new approach to using advances in technology to support caring for people at home.
The approach being taken by the county council has the backing of local NHS leaders who with an equally strong desire to support people to remain well and independent for as long as possible fully agree with the approach the council has set out.
If Cabinet agrees the proposals next week, the county council, and The Orders of St John Care Trust, who run the care homes as part of the Gloucestershire Care Partnership, will consult residents, their families, and employees to capture their views, concerns and comments as part of a six-week consultation.
At this stage, residents in the four homes don’t need to do anything. They will continue to receive all the care they need.
Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “These proposals reflect the outcome of the market engagement we carried out last year and the changing needs and preferences of Gloucestershire residents.
“I understand closing homes will cause concern to residents living in them and their families. That is why, if the recommendations are agreed next week, we will spend six weeks consulting with residents and their relatives, before a final decision is taken by cabinet in June.
“There will of course always be a need for residential care for those who need long term care and the changes that are being proposed will help ensure they receive this in modern facilities that have en-suite bathrooms and is flexible enough to adapt as needs of an individual change and develop.”
The results of the consultation will be reported to the June Cabinet meeting where cabinet members will be asked to take a final decision on whether or not to proceed with the closure of the four care homes.
If plans to close are approved residents and those who support them will be fully supported in finding the most appropriate way to meet their needs.
You can read the full cabinet report here.