Care survey warns of a mass exodus by home owners in Wales

Posted on November 19th, by geoff in Caring Times, Caring Times head. No Comments – latest

More than a third of care home owners in Wales don’t expect to be in business in five years’ time. That’s the stark warning from Care Forum Wales (CFW) – which represents more than 500 independent care providers ­ following a survey conducted with members.

According to CFW, home owners are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the chronic underfunding of the sector and difficulties in recruiting staff because of the lack of funding which suppresses pay. If the predicted exodus happens it would place an extra burden on the NHS that’s already creaking under the strain. Key findings of the survey included:

– 34% of respondents expected to quit over the next five years;

– 73.4% were having difficulty recruiting staff;

– 60% were unhappy with the current inspection regime.

CFW chair Mario Kreft said he wasn’t surprised that people were thinking of throwing in the towel.

“I think it particularly affects the smaller, community-based homes often in rural areas that rely on the owners’ input,” said Mr Kreft.

“People have to understand that nursing homes are only paid an extra 72p an hour above residential care rates.

“For that you have to contend with a whole raft of extra responsibilities and legislation. For one thing, you have to have a 24/7 fulltime registered nurse so you don’t have to be a genius to work out that you need 20 plus people just to pay for a nurse round the clock.

“Increasingly, I’m afraid, the sums just don’t add up and nobody knows how these places are going to survive – everybody now knows that health boards are underfunding basic health board funded nursing care in Wales.”

Mr Kreft said there would be a major reduction in the number of available nursing beds unless investment was made over the next 10 to 15 years to retain the nursing beds that currently underpin the NHS.

“Unfortunately, we still have is to convince local authorities who are so obsessed with the notion that somehow they can abolish residential care because people can be cared for in the community,” he said.

“They’re peddling a myth what residential will be no more, but nobody can point to which country in the world where it’s been abolished.

“What we’ve got to recognise is that there are almost as many nurse beds registered for nursing care in the independent sector homes in Wales as there are in the NHS.

“We need to link these two elements together so that we have a system that is integrated, including domiciliary care. To a large degree I think the Welsh Government does get it, but that understanding has not filtered down to local levels where far too often local authorities are in one silo and health authorities are in another.

“At the same time the demographics tell us there is going to be a doubling in a relatively short space of time a doubling of those people over 85 in Wales. Now if that’s the case we’re going to at least need to sustain a lot of those nursing beds, but what we’re seeing is that 800 of those beds have gone out of the system in the last year. There are nursing homes in administration, and often they are community-based nursing homes where the nearest nursing home to that is going to be miles and miles away. Where are these vulnerable people going to go, especially when hospital beds are going to be at a premium because the system is not joined up? It’s just going to put more and more pressure on the NHS when it can’t cope as it is.”

At the same time, said Mr Kreft, 60% of CFW members surveyed were unhappy with the inspection regime in Wales.

“Significant numbers are saying they have a regulatory visit and they feel as though they’re demotivated, they feel as though the process is not a constructive one.

“The regulator was in the past seen as a critical friend but typically the approach new is one of more subjective judgement and the issuing of reports on people’s homes without the residents having the opportunity to review what is being said about what is after all their own home.

“Another worrying aspect is how many members are reporting that the regulatory pressures are pushing them to admit calling the emergency services when people fall as a matter of routine and this is often bad for the residents and further exacerbates unplanned admissions.”

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