Future of Leeds care homes put under scrutiny as spending squeezed

The future of each of Leeds City Council’s 19 residential care homes and 16 day centres for the elderly are to be debated as the authority grapples with a spending squeeze.

A major shake-up being considered would result in a radical departure from the present system with the homes and centres either axed or offering specialist care for those who are frail, disabled or living with dementia.

Public talks started in January, with users, their families and carers, and the general public in Leeds being invited to give their views.

Now the debate will focus on each of the council’s 19 residential care homes and 16 day centres.

Senior officers have now completed an in-depth assessment of each home and centre, taking into account customer profiles, occupancy levels, the availability of similar facilities in the surrounding area, the cost of running and repairs, and the overall condition of the building.

As a result, options for each site are being proposed and these will be the subject of this second stage of consultation. These are, broadly:

To recommission the home or centre as a specialist facility for those who are frail, disabled or living with dementia; or as an intermediate care centre; or

To decommission the home or centre and find alternative services in the area.

Throughout the consultation, officers will continue to look for opportunities with the NHS and others for alternative uses or management arrangements of homes and centres.

Coun Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member with responsibility for adult health and social care, said: “The council is faced with unprecedented financial challenges, which means that we have to look at all of our services. We are determined to do this in a fair, considered and transparent way, which is why we want to consult with as many people as possible.

“We realise that as the consultation becomes more focused on individual homes and centres, people may start to feel more anxious. We understand this and are deeply sympathetic to people’s feelings, and I would like to assure them that everyone’s views will be listened to – and heard.

“I also want to emphasise that no decisions have been made yet. This will be the role of the council’s executive board after careful consideration of the outcome of the consultation. All changes that are made following the consultation will be managed with great care, and people will be kept informed and supported all the way.”

The first phase of the consultation asked for people’s views on proposals to reduce the number of residential care homes and day care centres for elderly people that the council runs.

People were asked if the needs of the vulnerable could be met by offering other services such as redeveloping some homes to provide specialist care for people with dementia and frail or disabled people; offering intermediate care to help people to regain independence following a hospital stay; or respite care to give families and carers a break.

The 19 old people’s homes account for 628 of the 2,214 residential care beds across the city and cost £20.2m a year to run.

Many are over 30 years old and need essential maintenance and improvement work totalling £7.5m, a council estimate has said, while the cost of bringing them up to the standard of new independent care homes is put at £28.7m.

The authority says demand at its 16 day centres for older people is falling at a time it has already made major spending cuts and faces making more in the future.

Service users and their families or carers will be offered meetings to discuss the options for the unit they attend and for the individual users.

The consultation will run until August and decisions are expected to be taken by the council’s executive board in September.