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30 April 2018

Coate Water Care Director tells the BBC that cuts in social care funding are unsustainable

In a televised interview with the BBC’s National News in the build-up to the local elections, Sue Houldey, Operations Director for Coate Water Care, was called upon to discuss one of the key issues for many voters - the devastating impact of cuts on the adult care sector.

Local authorities in England targeted £824m of savings in their social care budgets in 2017-18. Older people who rely on councils to provide personal services at home or places in care homes were hit again as social service departments struggled to reconcile rising demand and increasing costs with limited budgets.

“The key challenges for us are the levels of funding we receive from the local authority and the NHS, and difficulties getting staff recruited and trained into our homes,” Sue told the BBC’s Deputy Political Editor, John Pienaar, in the interview broadcast from Church View Nursing Home in Swindon. “We’d like to do more with our residents, we’d like to get them out to the garden centre every week, to the cinema and other activities which they’ve enjoyed before, but we just can’t do as much as we want to.”

As Mr Peinaar put it in the interview, “Home comforts cost money, and social care is about making a little go a long way. Not easy when experts say there will be a £2.5 billion funding gap in social care by 2019/20.”

Sue Houldey could not agree more. “The increases don’t begin to cover rising costs, especially that of paying the salaries of care home staff, and the problem is compounded by the fact that every local authority has said they will pay for care given to people in their homes with up to four visits a day by nurses. Keeping people at home is not a bad thing in itself, but it means that people are older and frailer when they eventually move in to residential homes, and the kind of labour intensive care they then need is very expensive.”

“An added complication is that the fees paid by local authorities vary greatly; they all have two or three tiers of fees for home care and two or three tiers for residential care. For a provider like Coate Water Care that has residential homes in four different counties that is a real logistical challenge. Put simply, the cost of care is the same in say, Swindon or Worcestershire, but the funding we receive for that care is significantly different.”

“In some cases, the fees we receive for 24-hour nursing care with three home-cooked meals a day amounts to less than the cost of one breakfast at a Premier Inn.”

“Despite the challenges, Coate Water remains committed to working in partnership with local authorities. One example is the unit we have at Chapel House in Gloucester that provides sixteen beds for NHS patients; another is the step-down unit at Westley Court in Worcester for patients making the transition from hospital to home.”

Sue continues: “At a time like this when people are voting for their local representatives for the next four years I think one of the key questions to ask politicians is what they propose to do about the seemingly endless cuts in funding for adult social care, cuts that have a huge impact on the most vulnerable in our society, including people living with dementia”

Her final message to John Pienaar’s camera when invited to address the nation: “National politicians need to get on with reform, but locally we need help now.”

To find out about residential care at any of Coate Water Care’s seven outstanding care homes in Swindon, Gloucester, Worcestershire and Warwickshire, please contact our ‘Welcome Team’ Sue or Geraldine on 01793 821200.

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