Talks Continue On Northumberland Care Home Dispute

Talks are continuing in a bid to resolve a long-running dispute over the fees paid to the owners of independent care homes for the elderly in Northumberland.

Officials from the county council and Care Trust have been in negotiations with dozens of private sector operators for 18 months over how much they should be paid for providing residential care for elderly and disabled people.

Homes which can demonstrate they meet high-quality standards have been offered a fee of £436 a week, which social services officials say is a 27% increase on 2004/5 and represents an additional investment of £7.3m over that time.

Yesterday the two partner agencies said so far 32 care homes – representing more than 40% of beds in the county – have agreed to the new contract.

They say some of those that have decided not to sign manage homes with variable quality standards, which have been highlighted by the independent regulator CSCI.

Those who are holding out for more want a three-year deal which would give them another 15% increase on top of annual inflation increases, it is claimed.

Yesterday Daljit Lally, executive director of adult care for the Care Trust and county council, said negotiations had been going on for 18 months on a new contract and new quality measures for care home providers.

“Without making quality standards part of the new contracts we can’t guarantee consistent quality. It’ very important that care homes are nice places to live.”