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Monday, 5 March, 2001, 01:31 GMT
'How long can we afford to care?'
Tony Andrews from St Leonard 's on Sea
Care home owner Tony Andrews is worried about the future of his business
Care homes across the country are closing.

Owners blame spiralling costs and poor government grants, which they claim make care homes unviable.

Home owner Tony Andrews tells BBC News Online about his fears for the future of care homes and why he may have to close his own home unless the government gives him a cash injection

For the last 21 years Tony Andrews has been running a care home in St. Leonard's, East Sussex.

Some of his residents have been living with him for 14 years or more - most have been at his 22-bed home for over a year.

But unless the government ploughs more money into homes like his, Mr Andrews says he could be forced to close.

Meaning many of the vulnerable residents having to leave the place they know as their home and uprooting them to somewhere totally new.

I can't keep running it at a loss. The situation is truly impossible and is going to get a lot worse

Tony Andrews, Care home owner

Mr Andrews is determined to hang onto his home as long as possible, but says he can't continue running it either at a loss or at the least without making a profit.

He said: "The funding is appalling. I am totally disillusioned.

"I am literally not getting any return on my capital and I can't go on like this.

"It is not that I am thinking about stopping now, I will continue as long as I can because I have 22 people here and this is their home. The trauma of them moving from one home to another would be terrible.

'Situation impossible'

"But this is also my livelihood. My whole pension and income is tied up in this I can't keep running it at a loss.

"The situation is truly impossible and is going to get a lot worse.

The government provides cash for the county councils, who then pass this down to the homes - but Mr Andrews says this is not enough.

In his area they only get 213 for 168 hours of care offered to residents and including all their meals. Mr Andrews said that a local bed and breakfast would charge more than this.

He said home owners could no longer continue - last year alone he said 38 homes in Brighton and Hove closed.

Mr Andrews said he could no longer compete with the wages offered by local supermarkets and social services and was aware his highly trained staff could be poached.

He said when homes like his have closed the government will start to realise that they are facing a crisis and urges them to wake up to the problems now.

NHS crisis

"It is a problem looming on the horizon and it will be a problem that is hitting the NHS.

"The whole thing is becoming very serious. I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that this is a crisis and it is going to become much more of a crisis."

Mr Andrews said care home owners like himself are being punished because of a few rogue home owners.

"The problem is that it is the occasional bandit who gives us the bad name. People do not see the good side of care because bad news is better."

Mr Andrews said it was time the government realised that residential care like that offered by his home was much more economical than keeping elderly people isolated at home.

He said: "The whole thing is madness."

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See also:

05 Mar 01 | Health
Care homes 'in crisis'
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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