Care home cuts are scandalous


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Once again, the effects of the shocking betrayal by Devon County Council towards vulnerable people in care, and their own staff, was exposed to me when I visited another DCC care home marked down for closure.

A son holding his mother’s hand, who is a resident in the home, who can barely contain his anger with tears in his eyes telling how disgusted and powerless he feels about the decision to close the home.

A member of staff who said she had been there for thirteen years said she couldn’t sleep with the upset of it all.

The human cost of this money-grabbing outrage is brought into stark reality.

Whether you have a relative or not living in a care home, this scandalous decision to close 20 council-run care homes by DCC affecting the lives of hundreds of people should concern us all.

It is about the treatment of people who are some of the most vulnerable in our society. Decisions that prey on the people most unable to fight it.

The perils of local councils washing their hands of their responsibility toward the elderly and handing them over to the private sector can be best illustrated by the collapse of Southern Cross in 2011 that affected 30,000 vulnerable people in 752 care homes.

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The councils want to ‘have their cake and eat it’. Not only are they closing down their own care homes but they are not giving enough money to the private care homes per resident.

This means that private care homes have to push prices up, not only for self-funding residents but ‘top-ups’ are now being required for around 28 per cent of council-funded residents according to the latest research in England.

Some care homes are unable to cope with the low-resident rates given by the council which is why the trend for care home closures in the private sector is going up.

Struggling to meet costs can also make private care home owners look to ‘cut corners’ putting residents at risk.

Despite changing their name several times in an effort to rebrand themselves, inspection units designed to monitor care homes are still coming under fire for failing to act. Shocking care home scandals appear in the media on a regular basis.

The care system needs to be totally reorganised . It is outdated, and is unable to meet the growing demand for dementia care.

Instead of being properly reorganised, local authorities like Devon have just absolved themselves from any responsibility.

What they can’t do is get away from the consequences of those decisions. They should be made to be accountable for what they have decided.

I was involved in social care as a manager, director and advisor for over thirty years in both the private and public sector – both my parents were in care homes until their death in 2006.

What is going on is a national disgrace.


Richard Benford