Lincolnshire care home group hits out at underfunding

AN organisation claiming to represent 60 per cent of the county’s care home providers has warned that a county council funding offer is unacceptable.

Nick Chambers of LACE Housing is chairman of the Lincolnshire Care Association, a voluntary organisation representing a significant proportion of care providers across the county.

He claimed that since 2008, Lincolnshire County Council has failed to pay care homes a fee that reflects the rising cost of care for residents placed within private homes. With rising costs, care homes face an uncertain future at a time when the council intends to withdraw from its own ‘in house’ provision in many areas.

The majority of Lincolnshire Care Association members have confirmed they are unable to enter into a proposed new funding agreement with the council. As a result, the association claims the council is refusing to let new people move to those homes, denying them their choice.

Mr Chambers said: “We fear that unless this matter is resolved and the sector experiences an increase in investment many providers will face challenges presently being experienced by Southern Cross.

“We would like to see how the fee for care offered by the council has been calculated and how this can remain the same for potentially four years.”

The main dispute is a reduction in the weekly payment, fixed for two to four years. For personal (residential) care the council is offering £368 per week whereas an independent review suggests £449 per week.

The association was to meet with the council yesterday (Tuesday) but the outcome was uncertain unless self funding residents offset the extra cost.

Terry Hawkins, Interim Assistant Director of Adult Social Care for the county council, said the LCA were being alarmist and could distress existing and potential residents: “This year they (the LCA) don’t seem to appreciate the full extent of the public sector deficit reduction and savings plans which have impacted significantly on most care providers.”

He said contracts are direct with individual homes and 154 out of 270 have agreed to the new terms and conditions and pricing schedule. He was confident nearly all residential care homes would follow suit while doing everything possible to protect funding for residential care while ensuring sufficient affordable provision.