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Caithness News Bulletins November 2005

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Social Work Establishments In Highland    
A report to be considered by The Highland Council's Housing and Social Work Committee on Wednesday 9 November recommends the closure of the Corsee Home in Nairn due to the high cost of service provision as the demand for places diminishes in the town and the availability locally of high quality care. At the same time, the Committee is asked to approve a timescale for seeking bids from the independent sector to run seven Council owned residential homes. Interested parties will be invited to bid to run all the homes or one of the four area "lots".

These are:
Ross and Cromarty: Duthac House, Tain; Urray House, Muir of Ord (56 residents);
Inverness: Burnside and Ach an Eas, both Invernesss (44);
Badenoch and Strathspey: Grant House, Grantown; Wade Centre, Kingussie (30);
Lochaber: Invernevis House, Fort William (30).

A Project Team has been set up to oversee the reprovisioning of the seven care homes, preparing the necessary tender documentation. The draft timetable will see tenders invited in December with a closing date of April/May next year. Tender evaluation and short-leeting will take place in May and the successful provider/s selected in June. A contract or contracts are envisaged to be awarded in August.

Staff, residents, relatives and trade unions have been kept fully appraised of developments and regular meetings have been held at each of the cares home.

At Corsee, Nairn, Committee members have been advised that a recent analysis of the costs of running the home and of the care home market within Nairn points to an alternative care home solution.

Despite being registered for 23 places, only 12 places have been occupied in recent months, with care costing 1,150 per week for each resident.

The report by Harriet Dempster, Director of Social Work, states: "This is unsustainable. It is recommended that arrangements are made to re-provide for the residents."

She reports that the current independent care home market in Nairn has capacity of 13 places and concludes that the decrease in demand at Corsee suggests that a refurbished building or new build with a minimum of 23 places would be surplus to requirements.

The Council currently spends 11 million per year on providing care for 330 residents in 21 care homes. At the same time, it buys services from the independent sector to provide residential care for 1,000 older people.

It currently costs the Council approximately 10,000 more per person per year to provide care in Council care homes as compared with the cost of purchasing that care from the independent sector.

Residential care is being reviewed because Care Commission standards require care providers to upgrade facilities, including the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of the Housing and Social Work Committee said: "We carried out a review of the services we offer older people and one thing it highlighted was the changing aspirations of older people to remain in their own homes. Our ability to develop a modernised home care service has been thwarted because so much money is tied up in the provision of care homes.

"By testing the market earlier in the year we know there is interest from the independent sector in running homes in the Inner Moray Firth area. We want to take our investigations to the next stage by providing extensive information which will allow interested parties to make a bid for all or some of the homes.

"Once we receive the bids we can decide how best to provide the highest level of service to our older people, which offers the best value for money for every community care pound we spend."

No homes are currently being considered under this proposal.

Bayview Care Home in Thurso is closed presently for full refurbishment to bring it up to Care Commission standards and full compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act.