Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of over-50s group Saga, says the Southern Cross care homes closure maintains the pressure on Government to ring-fence spending on care provision, to keep residents and their families well informed of developments in a bid to drive certainty and reassurance – and to drive plans to enable people to benefit from receiving care in their own homes.
“This has become a fast-changing news story, so communication with those most affected – residents and their families – must be clear, consistent and frequent to avoid the uncertainty that plagued those affected in the early phases of the demise of Southern Cross,” said Dr Altmann.
“In June everybody involved resolved to deliver a decisive way forward for Southern Cross and its residents by the autumn of this year. There was a degree of certainty in that – although not enough, of course – and while we are pleased there is now some progress towards resolution, of paramount importance is that residents, their families and the staff need reassurance about the future level of care provided in the care homes being transferred to new owners or operators.
“The fundamental problem remains that Government has historically not put enough money into care; we say that a priority must be to enable more people to receive care in their own home. But local authority budgets are being cut, and they are not willing to pay enough to cover the costs of providing care of a quality that ensures dignity and decency to care home residents – or those wanting to stay in their own home - so in the case of care homes, individuals or families end up subsidising state-funded residents which is obviously not a sustainable situation.
“The £2billion that Government has supposedly given to local authorities for additional care funding is not ring-fenced for care, so it is not being spent on care - and councils are still cutting care budgets, not increasing them despite the growing demand and need for care. This is a problem across the whole care sector and needs to be addressed urgently.
“We have been looking at just one example, Worcestershire, where the local authority is willing to pay just £70 a day to cover full board, meals, accommodation and staff to look after residents. It doesn’t take a financial expert to appreciate this is simply not enough to cover costs, particularly as inflation has reached such high levels.
“The Southern Cross situation stresses the importance of driving through Andrew Dilnot’s recommendations – whether in current form or modified – which will help capacity and funding alleviate pressures throughout care provision.”
For further information please contact the Saga Press Office on 01303 771529.