Homes sell-off vote next month

A DECISION whether to privatise 17 council run homes for older people will be made by Suffolk councillors next month.Four years' ago, four homes were sold and with the county council facing mounting pressure to save cash and restructure services, the authority will decide whether to follow the lead of other local authorities and hand over all its remaining homes and staff to the private sector.

By Graham Dines

A DECISION whether to privatise 17 council run homes for older people will be made by Suffolk councillors next month.

Four years' ago, four homes were sold and with the county council facing mounting pressure to save cash and restructure services, the authority will decide whether to follow the lead of other local authorities and hand over all its remaining homes and staff to the private sector.

In a report to Wednesday's meeting of the adult care and community services scrutiny committee, a working party of three councillors has flagged up the issues that the council's ruling cabinet will have to consider when deciding the future of the homes on April 25.


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Peter Beer (Conservative), Graham Manuel (Labour) and Inga Lockington (Liberal Democrat) have indicated that the quality of care in the private sector, the prices they charge the county council for care packages, and assurances on contract compliance must be factors in deciding whether the 17 properties should be sold.

The three believe that the option to contract out the management of care homes as distinct from their sale should be given serious consideration.

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Graham Gatehouse, the council's director for adult care and community services, says in an accompanying report: “For those who do need frail elderly residential care, the wider market could provide for them.

“One of the key issues in this review is for the county council to decide what service it should specialise in, and if there is a need for it to provide any residential services at all.

“Indications are that dementia care, respite, and rehabilitation are the services with the biggest shortfalls across the county.”

Suffolk looks after 538 elderly people in its residential care homes, supports 5,500 people through home care and a further 2,912 people through privately owned residential care places/nursing care in the county.

The council-run care homes, and the number of beds, are: Angel Court, Hadleigh, 28 beds; Blyford, Lowestoft, 36 beds; Cherryfields, Bramford, 13; Crabbe Street, Ipswich, 31; Danvers Court, Bury St Edmunds, 34; Glastonbury Court, Bury St Edmunds, 48; Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich, 29; Ixworth Court, Ixworth,22; Lehmann House, Wickham Market, 38; Mills Meadow, Framlingham, 32; Paddock House, Eye, 30; Place Court, Haverhill, 31; Sidegate Lane, Ipswich, 30; Stradbroke Court, Lowestoft, 35; The Dell, Beccles, 38; Wade House, Stowmarket, 30; Wamill Court, Mildenhall, 33.

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