Care Homes Will Close Unless More Money Is Provided

{mosimage} Care Home owners in West Wales have warned that unless funding for the independent sector is increased, widespread closures may occur. According to Care Forum Wales (CFW), the members association for the independent care sector in Wales, increases in fees awarded to independently run homes in Carmarthenshire fall far short of the awards made to council-run care homes. And with rising energy costs, and high standards to maintain, care home owners have said unless increases are made staying open may no longer be viable. At a Carmarthenshire council meeting in July, it was decided that fees awarded to independent care homes would rise by 4% – 2% to be backdated to April, with a further 2% increase being applied to all contracts for service users aged 65 and over from October.

But according to Mario Kreft, chief executive of CFW, this compares with a 15% increase in the fees for elderly care appointed to council-run care homes.

He said, “The fact of the matter is that Carmarthen is persistently underfunding the independent care sector in favour of council-run homes. This in turn has a marked effect on recruiting and retaining care workers.

“There is a growing demand for high-quality care for the elderly, but Carmarthenshire is taking an extremely narrow and short-term view, and one which will have extremely serious consequences in terms of the care which is provided for the elderly population.”

He added, “One of the good things about the independent sector is that it provides homes right across Wales in people’s communities, but looking at these figures, it will simply be impossible for people to maintain and develop the service. It’s just not viable.”

John Woolford, of Llandaff House Care Home in Llangennech, and board member of Care Forum Wales, said, “This is more than disappointing – it is shameful.

The independent sector has not even received the derisory 2% in additional funding, yet and we are already in August. It appears to me that the independent care sector is considered very low on the executive’s agenda.”

He added, “The smaller homes don’t have a hope. We will lose a lot of our care provision over the next five years.

“And this will have a knock-on effect on the health service with more bed blocking occurring.

“We are not keeping pace with inflation let alone the increases in energy costs. In the last year alone my energy costs have doubled.

“It is very disappointing. We heard all the right noises being made by the local authority saying they appreciated the problems and then they come up with something like this while giving themselves a 13%-14% increase.”

Care Forum Wales, the members of the association for the independent care sector in Wales, has been lobbying for a fair price for care for the past four years and in 2004 named and shamed Carmarthen as the worst unitary authority in Wales in terms of funding the independent sector.

But spokesperson for Carmarthenshire Council Debbie Williams said efforts had been made to improve funding since then.