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Caithness News Bulletins October 2005

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The Highland Council faces challenges in proving quality care services for older people in the Highlands.

Chairman of The Highland Council’s Housing and Social Work Committee, Councillor Margaret Davidson said:  “We want to provide the highest standard of care for our older people in the Highlands.  Currently the Council has 21 care homes, a number of which are not up to standard.  We are in the process of refurbishing four of these care homes and next year work will begin on another four, however, we cannot afford to bring all 21 care homes up to meet the Care Commission standards.”

It currently costs the Council approximately £200 more per person per week to provide care in Council care homes as compared with the cost of purchasing that care from the independent sector.

Councillor Davidson added:  “Currently we depend heavily upon the independent sector to provide residential care for the elderly in the Highlands and purchase approximately 1,000 places.  The care commission standards are impacting on this sector too and they face similar problems to us.  Recently several independent care homes have close because their buildings cannot meet the new standards.  We feel it is very important to establish more stability for care provision with the independent sector and the tendering exercise we are undertaking will allow us to commission and block purchase places with a service level agreement which will bring greater stability to the independent care home sector.”

Director of Social Work, Harriet Dempster said: “We carried out a review of the services we offer older people and one thing the review 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.  Currently it cost The Highland Council £11m to provide for 330 people in council care homes.  As well as providing the highest level of services to our older people we want to ensure we get the best value for money for every community care pound we spend.”

In 2002/2003 The
Highland Council undertook a strategic review of its services for older people to examine what services would be required to meet the needs of the elderly into the 21st century.  This review highlighted the changing aspirations of older people and their wish for home based support rather than care homes and the need to meet national standards and DDA requirements.  Further work was done exploring the feasibility and affordability of refurbishing the 21 council care homes. 

A report was presented to the Housing and Social Work Committee in November last year which resulted in a decision that the Director of Social Work should seek expressions of interest from the independent sector with regard to re provisioning services currently provided at 7 care homes.  The outcome of this exercise was reported to the Housing and Social Work Committee in May 2005 and the decision was made to progress to a second stage tender.  Throughout this process regular communication has been maintained with staff, residents and relatives to keep them informed.

The 7 Care Homes are:

  • Duthac House, Tain
  • Achaneas, and Burnside, Inverness
  • Grant House, Grantown
  • Wade Centre, Kingussie
  • Urray House, Muir of Ord
  • Corsee, Nairn*

* In recent months the occupancy of Corsee has dropped and it is now running at less than half capacity with no waiting list.  Other homes in Nairn are in a similar position suggesting that there is not the same need to commission further service.  The Director of Social Work will bring a report on Corsee to the November Housing and Social Work Committee.

In Caithness Bayview care home is currently being refurbished and residents are living at two temporary locations whilst the work is undertaken.