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The BBC's Alison Holt
"Care home owners arrived at Westminster..to spell out the crisis facing them"
 real 56k

Chief executive NCHA, Sheila Scott
"Local authorities are keeping the fee levels artificially low"
 real 28k

Care home owner, Dick Barton
"We're receiving less money each year"
 real 28k

Monday, 5 March, 2001, 16:21 GMT
More care homes face closure
Care home owners lobby Parliament on Monday
Care home owners say they face going bust
Care home owners lobbying MPs over what they call a crisis in care say thousands of beds for the elderly are being lost each year.

Last week the government announced it was introducing a set of minimum standards for care home owners to follow.

This included giving residents more choice over how they spend their days and ensuring the staff working with them are fully qualified and carefully vetted.

But care home owners lobbying parliament on Monday said they are currently getting inadequate fees for the services they provide.


I think it is quite difficult not to get demoralised. It is difficult when you see all the negative things

Sheila Scott
National Care Homes Association

Without more funding they fear more and more homes will close.

More than 70% of elderly people cared for in the independent sector residential care homes and nursing homes are currently funded by the state because they do not have the money to pay for their own care.

Double standards

They accuse local authorities of double standards - paying more for state run care than for homes in the private sector.

The government allocates money to the local authorities, who are then responsible for giving this to the care homes.

National Care Homes Association (NCHA) said that from this April, Wiltshire County Council will be paying the private sector homes 233.90 per person per week. They will pay the public sector homes 398 per week.

Sheila Scott, chief executive of the NCHA, said that without more funding the private sector would collapse leaving a crisis for the NHS.

Pensioners in a residential home
Care home owners want a fair deal for the elderly
She said: "This dire lack of funding has seen thousands of elderly residents needlessly blocking hospital beds this winter while they wait for social services funding.

"Ironically the private care home sector is in a position to provide a high standard of care but at a fraction of the cost that local authorities pay themselves.

"But with uncertainty over funding many of our members have already decided enough is enough and voted with their feet and got out of the market entirely.

"And we predict more of the remaining care homes will go out of business because of underfunding."

'Devastating' for the frail

It was bad enough for healthy people to lose their homes but for the frail and sick it was "devastating".

Ms Scott said the lobby was a last ditch attempt to try to get the government to sit up and take notice of their plight.

Local government was under financial pressure and she suggested the money be given directly to service users.

The home owners are urging MPs to join NCHA officers in a series of meetings throughout the day.

Denise Denis, a care home owner, said funding was rising by less than inflation every year and minimum wage rise would take the situation impossible.

Government listening

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "We are very aware of, and are listening to, the views of the care home sector but these must be balanced against the needs of older people who actually use their services.


"Older people want to remain living independently at home for as long as possible."

Department of Health spokesman

"Older people want to remain living independently at home for as long as possible.

"This Government is committed to helping them do so. This inevitably means there will be a shift in the services older people need.

"We are working to ensure that there is a balance between supporting independent living and making sure there is sufficient supply of good quality residential care for those who need it."

Philip Hammond, Tory spokesman on community care, said the care owners were right.

"I cannot understand why the government is being so pig headed about this," he said, estimating as many as 40,000 beds could have been lost in the last year.

The Tory MP argued central government, not local councils, was to blame for the funding problems.

He suggested a forum should be established to identify the real cost of care. While the figure would not be imposed, both sides could refer to it.

More help needed

Paul Burstow MP, Liberal Democrat shadow minister for older people, called for more help to care home owners faced with going bust.

"The simple problem is that the costs of running a care home are increasing much faster than the level of state support. Care homes are still going broke."

The new standards would try to improve care but did not addresss the funding issue, he added

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See also:

05 Mar 01 | Health
'How long can we afford to care?'
02 Mar 01 | Health
New measures to help the elderly
04 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Lib Dems warn of care home swipe cards
03 Nov 00 | Scotland
Care homes 'face bankruptcy'
27 Jul 00 | UK
Coughing up for care
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