Norfolk’s New Care Home Plan

Policymakers have today set out where more than 10,000 care places for Norfolk’s rising numbers of older people are needed in the next decade as it emerged that upgrading the existing residential homes would cost £60m.

Council bosses want to create an extra 2480 care places across the county by 2020 – taking the total up to 10,427 – while shifting away from the traditional care homes model as part of a major overhaul in care home provision which will see partnerships with councils, developers, voluntary organisations and the private sector to build new types of homes.

But there will be 1,705 fewer long stay places, with a shift instead towards 1,351 extra housing with care scheme places – where residents live in their own flats within a communal set up, up from the 575 places currently available.

In January councillors backed the policy shift and the strategy seeks to cope with a growing older population within existing resources through a combination of more preventative measures to help people stay in their own homes longer, and targeted short term and specialist care homes.

More work is also needed to address any surpluses and shortfalls of different types of care across the county, but the authority looks set to rule out privatising existing homes and are keen to retain in-house staff – though buildings could be sold off to raise funds for new facilities.

A report by Harold Bodmer, director of adult social services, said that residents and staff will be thoroughly informed and involved as the proposals develop. There will also be training for staff, and the authority is keen to work closely with union officials about any changes.

He said: “It’s about normality. We have got to cope with more people and their rising expectations. We have said what we want to do, the next step is to work on the individual plans.”

The numbers of over 85s is set to increase by 54pc by 2020 and although the quality of care offered in all of the council’s care homes is rated as either ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ by inspectors, the authority believes the current standard of accommodation no longer meets older people’s expectations.

The switch is also being driven by the prohibitive £60m price tag of upgrading the existing provision and adding en-suite bathrooms – which is also ruled out because it would see a reduction in places available and create rooms inaccessible to wheelchairs.

Instead the authority could look at selling off some of the homes as a means of paying for the new facilities and the council is setting aside £300,000 for a procurement team to look at the different elements of the strategy from sell offs to training, legal and financial advice.

Chris Mowle, cabinet member for adult social services said: “Norfolk is facing a massive increase in demand for different types of residential care alongside an ever tightening budget. We cannot sit back and do nothing.”