Some care homes 'may be sold'

COUNCIL bosses in Suffolk could move closer towards selling off some of its residential homes for the elderly when they recommend a shake-up of adult social services.

COUNCIL bosses in Suffolk could move closer towards selling off some of its residential homes for the elderly when they recommend a shake-up of adult social services.

A report to Suffolk County Council's cabinet committee to be considered on April 25 suggests four possible models of care for the future use, ownership and management of the 17 council-owned residential homes.

It is advised that councillors agree to further investigate two schemes so a final decision can be approved at a meeting on July 20. The homes currently house 538 residents and have 1,231 members of staff - the equivalent of 670 full time posts.

The first proposal is for the council to enter into a partnership agreement, inviting private companies to take over a leasehold ownership of a building and the management of the care.


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The same company would not necessarily have to bid for both and it is thought the “hotel services”, such as cooks and domestic assistants, could also be considered separately.

The other model is a more flexible approach where each residential home could be considered individually with an option to keep things as they are, sell it as a going concern to the private sector or to enter into a partnership agreement.

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Proposals to continue with current practices and to sell all homes to the private sector as a going concern were rejected because it was thought they would lead to a shortfall in care.

There are 129,571 people in the county aged 65 or over and it is predicted this will rise by 11,900 in the next five years - a rise of 9.2%. Meanwhile the number of people over 85 will go up by 2,827, which is a rise of 14.9%.

As a result it is thought a shake up of the current care system is needed if the county is going to meet the increased need for residential and nursing care that will accompany this rise.

The report reads: “The challenge for the county council…is how to work with independent providers to help them to sustain business viability, strengthen quality standards across the homes, whilst reducing their costs without a loss of quality.

“The review so far has concluded that to carry on with the status quo…would not best meet demands or the needs of the people now or in the future. Too many factors are preventing best value and costs are high.”

It said selling all the homes was too risky, while the partnership agreement could offer more reassurance to people that type and quality of care can be maintained.

It concludes that the final option, to have a mixture of care models, would provide flexibility to allow for some reduction in costs, some injection of quality provision into the market and some retention of control to meet specialist needs.

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