Devon County Council says phased closure will help plug Government funding gap.
DEVON County Council says closing care homes is the ‘only way’ the authority could plug a £200million Government funding gap.
Residential homes will close over the next 18 months as part of a bid to cut its budget from £600 million in 2009 to £400 million in 2017.
In a statement released following today’s announcement, the council said its own care homes cost an average of £903 per bed per week compared to £426 a week in the private sector.
It said it already buys 90 per cent of the residential home places it needs from the private sector, but spends nearly 30 per cent of its £70 million residential care budget on providing places for the remaining 10 per cent of residents.
The council stressed there was ‘sufficient’ capacity among the 4,300 the county’s independent registered care beds to meet the demand of council-funded residents.
Councillor Stuart Barker, the council’s cabinet member for adult social care, said: “Nothing will happen immediately. This is a process that will take time and we will do this with great care and sensitivity.
“In taking the decisions I want to ensure that everyone who is entitled to have a service from us gets it, be it residential care or a day service, and that they will continue to receive a service that meets their needs.
“The phased closure of our care homes will be conducted over a period up to 18 months, and that process will be managed case by case with residents and their families.
“No one will within reason need to move until a place at the home they choose to move to is available. The speed of their move will, to a large extent be determined by the residents themselves and the availability of their choice.
“No one will move unless they are able to do so safely.”
The Council received around 2,000 responses to its consultations on the future of residential and day care services, with most responding to the proposals for day services.
Some voiced concern about the risk of isolation if their day centre closes, while others worried about the availability of alternative day centres in their area.
Carers highlighted their reliance on day centres as respite to them in their caring role.
Similarly care home residents questioned the availability of suitable alternative residential homes, especially for dementia care.
They worried that the quality of care in private homes is not as good as that in council-run homes, while families were concerned that relatives will not cope well with any move.
Cllr Barker added: “We do have considerable experience in helping people find alternative residential care and we fully understand the anxiety that such change can bring to residents and families.
“We will do everything we can to minimise that anxiety, following the very best national guidance and good practice in supporting residents through the transition.
“Regarding day centres, we need to recognise that there are far more people, eligible for our support, who choose not to attend day centres, least of all our day centres.
“We need to support them more, to maximise the opportunities that Direct Payments and personal budgets provides them. We will be working with the private and voluntary sector in local communities.
“We also need to make sure that everyone who chooses to attend day centres can still do exactly that together with their friends if this is their choice as well.
“Nothing will happen immediately and no one will be left without a day service or be financially worse off for it.
“Individual support from independent trained professionals will be provided to help people with more complex care needs.
“Where people are keen to keep friendship groups together, we will aim to do so. We will also arrange taster sessions to give people chance to visit other day centres without committing them.”