Care home group drops its legal threat over payment
CARE home owners have withdrawn a threat of legal action against Plymouth City Council over how much they are paid to look after residents.
A group of 31 owners challenged a council offer in August to raise their fees by an average of 5.6 per cent. The increase would see the cost of looking after elderly people in care homes go up by more than £800,000 this year to more than £20million. The Plymouth Care Providers Group, threatened legal action after rejecting the offer. It said yesterday that it was withdrawing the threat of legal action after the council agreed to continue negotiating. The group said its members were underpaid by about £100 a week per person.
There are 69 council-funded residential and nursing homes caring for about 800 people in Plymouth.
Group spokesman Alan Beale said: "Although they talked to care providers, they didn't ask for any information about how much the provision of care actually costs. They don't seem to have an objective method for putting that information into a framework and calculating the actual cost."
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The group said there was a wide gap between the actual cost of caring and the amount the local authority paid.
Despite withdrawing the legal threat, the 31 members said they still felt the council was not aware of the full costs of the services they provided.
But the council said its previous 5.6per cent offer was fair, and that a number of other home operators were happy with the new rate.
"Earlier this year we consulted with care homes before proposing new fees," a council spokeswoman said. "While a number are happy with the fees, some are still concerned about the process of agreeing the new rates and have asked us to review this.
"In the spirit of partnership we have offered to negotiate further."
The council picks up all or part of the bill for people with savings of less than £23,250. The increase – which is backdated to April this year – will cost the council £840,000, taking the total cost to £20,534,145. As it is not being funded by the Government, the money will have come out of the existing adult social care budget.
There has been a considerable change in the provision of elderly health and social care, with more people now supported to live in their own homes for as long as possible. This has led to a decline in the demand for straightforward residential care, and a bigger proportion of people who have higher dependency and require specialist care including nursing, dementia care and palliative care.
Plymouth commissions about 650 residential care home beds and 150 nursing beds across 69 care home operators. The cost per resident varies.
Plymouth City Council spends about £67million on the care of adults of all ages. The bulk of the money – £37million – goes on residential care, of which more than £20million is for people over 65.