More care home closures ahead unless funding system reformed, MSPs warned

Written by Clay Winowiecki on 13 December 2017 in News

Care sector warns the Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport Committee about the system of funding elderly care

Donald Macaskill - Scottish Parliament

Recent controversial care home closures are set to continue, MSPs have been warned.

The latest closure of 12 care homes owned by the Bield Housing Association won’t be the last in Scotland because “Bield is a symptom of a disease”, industry body Scottish Care warned Holyrood’s Health and Sport Committee.

Families demanded government intervention after the decision by Bield meant 167 elderly residents face an uncertain future.

The chief executive of Scottish Care, Donald Macaskill, said a number of significant players in the industry are “profoundly concerned” about the future of care homes in the next calendar year.

“This is human rights week, Sunday was human rights day, we are profoundly talking here about the lives of individuals but we are also talking about the priority which we in Scotland give to the care and support of older people,” he said.

“Bield is a symptom of a disease, and that disease is the underfunding of social care in Scotland.”

He added: “How much are we prepared in Scotland to pay for the support and care of some of our most vulnerable citizens?”

Care home standards body the Care Inspectorate found that the number of care homes for older people has dropped 6 per cent to 849, down from 905, representing 883 fewer beds for some of the most vulnerable members of society.

The figures come as more people live into their 80s and develop more complex conditions in old age.

Scottish Care warned the committee they have “clear additional evidence that a good number of providers will seek to withdraw from the sector in the next calendar year unless there is a substantial redress to outstanding issues”.

Local government body COSLA called for the committee to review Scottish priorities or difficult decisions will need to be made by all parts of the system. This could include further reduction in care home workforce, cuts in services and increased charges and taxes.

The Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership said: “Arrangements for the purchase of care home placements need to be more sustainable over the longer term, with transparency regarding costs and expectations.”

Care homes are struggling to fill positions as well, part of which is caused by the low wages in the sector.

In their submission to the committee the Care Inspectorate said: “Care homes for older people is the service type with the largest proportion of services reporting [job] vacancies at 59 per cent.”

According to the Care Inspectorate, in the last five years 18 care homes for older people have acknowledged that financial viability and costs are main factors for the cancellation of services.

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