Shake-up planned for city’s care home system

PLANS for wholesale changes to the care of elderly people in the city have been unveiled by Cardiff council.

At least three of the city’s residential homes, housing scores of pensioners, will close over the next two years as the council aims to replace publicly-owned homes built around 50 years ago, with modern privately-owned and run facilities.

Councillor John Dixon, who is responsible for social care in the capital, accepted that there would be short-term pain for residents but said the changes would be good for the city.

Coun Dixon said: “This is about creating the kind of facilities I would be happy for my own mum to stay in.

“What the residents of Cardiff get out of this will be additional beds to where we started, but most importantly these beds are nursing care and extra care.

“This is positive for Cardiff.”

The changes affect the seven local-authority-owned homes in Cardiff that are run by Hafod housing.

The homes were all built around the 1960s and officers say they have proved difficult to adapt to modern standards and the needs of increasingly elderly residents with conditions like dementia.

Although new private homes have sprung up, like the 90-bed Sunrise home on Cyncoed Road, Coun Dixon said they were all at the “Harrods-end of the market”.

He said the new homes that would be built by Hafod housing association in Trowbridge and Radyr would be at the “Tesco or Asda end of the market”, and affordable for the general public yet still meeting modern standards.

Under the council’s plans, which will go to the council’s executive committee tomorrow, the first residential care home to close will be the 35-bed Woodcroft home in Trowbridge, which is planned to shut in November.

Meetings have already been held with the current 18 residents of the home, who will be transferred to one of the other existing seven homes, which are leased and run by Hafod housing association.

Dave Lewis, the residential director of Hafod, said: “We have held meetings with residents and their families to get the initial shock of the move over and to start planning with them how the moves will take place.”

The Woodcroft home will be replaced with a larger £7m facility, built and funded by Hafod, with 36 fully-equipped nursing care beds, 24 beds for patients with advanced dementia, and 15 beds for more independent patients in an “extra care” type facility. It is expected to open in 2011.

A similar facility is planned by Hafod for the Radyr Sidings residential development, opening in 2013, while the existing care homes at the Maelfa, Llanedeyrn, and Countisbury Avenue, Llanrumney, will close in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Mr Lewis said the advantage of such new facilities was that they enabled residents to be cared for in the same complex even as their needs changed as they aged.

As Cardiff council has begun supporting more elderly residents in their own homes, through innovations like telecare which allows pensioners to call for help through a button around their neck, residents being admitted to care homes have grown older and their needs greater.

Mr Lewis said that the existing seven homes had not been built with these needs in mind, particularly for patients with dementia who needed safe room to wander.

Staff have raised concerns about the plans as they will see local-authority owned facilities replaced by privately-owned facilities and see the employment of residential care staff directly by the council phased out.

In the long-term, Coun Dixon said he hoped that all residential care provision in the city would be modernised by 2016.

He said the future of the remaining three council homes run by Hafod, Ty Newydd in Ely, Dorothy Lewis in Canton and Cathedral View in Gabalfa, depended on the demand for facilities and the emergence of other care homes planned in the city.

St Isan is already expected to close in 2016.