Push NHS to sell surplus land to build more care homes, says former care minister
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In late August the cross-party think-tank Demos published the report from its year long Commission on Residential Care, chaired by former care minister Paul Burstow.
The Commission’s headline recommendation is that the NHS should sell surplus land next to hospitals to build enough care homes and supported living apartments to meet increasing demand. In announcing the Commission’s finding and recommendations, Mr Burstow said that making NHS land available was just one of many reforms urgently needed by the care sector.
The Demos Commission’s final report calls for incentives, such as expedited planning permission and reduced purchase prices, to sell surplus land to providers who are willing to reserve a percentage of space for state-funded care, or contribute to local authority services.
The report proposes more co-location in the sector – combining care properties with educational institutions or community centres such as nursery groups or libraries. Mr Burstow has also called for a separation of housing and care costs along with the introduction of individual tenancy rights to give people moving into care homes the same security and rights as those moving into supported housing or care villages.
The proposal is designed to prevent care home residents from being moved from their home through commissioner decision-making, allow them to decide whether or not to have CCTV in their property, and offer shared ownership and decision-making powers of communal areas.
The report also recommends:
- The Office for Budget Responsibility should conduct regular 20-year projections to accurately predict future demand for care services and the financial and technological requirements in the sector.
- Dropping the term ‘residential care’ from registration, local commissioning and national policy and replacing it with ‘housing with care’ to better describe a spectrum of options.
- Expanding the Care Quality Commission’s role to inspect local health and care commissioners, not just providers; to focus exclusively on the quality of care rather than surrounding accommodation, to bring care home inspections in line with the current scrutiny of extra-care villages.
- Introducing an industry-wide ‘licence to practise’ ensuring all care workers receive a minimum level of training before they are able to support people unsupervised. The licence could also be suspended or revoked in cases of malpractice or abuse.
- Making housing with care a living wage sector, to boost staff morale, reduce turnover and help tackle negative perceptions that have damaged the sector.
- All care providers must publish and respond to official feedback and complaints about their services via their website to encourage a culture of transparency and accountability.
Demos chief executive Claudia Wood said housing with care was a vital part of the vision outlined in the Care Act earlier this year.
“The time for small-scale solutions is over,” said Ms Wood.
“The Commission is calling for bold changes in the way residential care is inspected, commissioned and built to ensure the sector is fit for purpose and can meet the needs of an ageing population. Only by thinking big can we ensure that a 21st Century vision for care will be reached.”