In December 2016, Cllr Repton presented the case to the Cabinet for the transfer to private ownership of the Council’s remaining 5 Care Homes. As 96% of the City’s elderly residents are already in private establishments this was not seen as a controversial measure. This was underpinned by Cllr Repton’s clear statement on a “triple lock”, that meant that any new buyer would be contractually required to:
- Provide to the existing residents a “quality care service for the remainder of their lifetime”
- At no additional costs to the residents
- Staff would be transferred across under TUPE arrangements ( i.e. on existing Council terms and conditions)
The 1st tranche of 3 Council Homes were to be sold off by March 2017, and the remaining 2 by the end of 2017.
The Council is significantly behind plan, despite the original urgency, and despite the claimed expressions of interest. Recently, sales literature has been issued by the estate agent, Cushman & Wakefield, for 3 properties Coleridge House, Raynesway View and Merrill House. The deadline for offers is 12th January 2018, to a combined value of nearly £1.5m with an expected completion period of 3 months. These are sales as going concerns, with staff and residents.
In view of this, why did the Council, last Thursday, announce to the staff, residents, and families of Coleridge House that they all need to be out by Xmas….so the Home can close!?
The Council alleged that there are “resourcing” issues. In fact there are around 45 staff, for the 18 residents – sources confirm that this is not considered to be a resourcing problem.
Residents and families are left with a very uncertain and worrying period in the lead up to Xmas. I spoke to one family member who was left with the impression that she would have to search for a new home; this was causing her great anxiety as her mother was particularly frail and was living with dementia. Social workers will be advising in this process, but the communications have been poor.
It is also a very uncertain time for staff – a source confirmed:
“At the minute we have 3 managers from the other homes who are in Coleridge until it shuts and they are hoping and stating that they want the staff to go off sick so that the home can be shut by Christmas as then they can say we are short staffed and it is not safe. The Head of Service said if the families comply then residents will be out by Xmas and settled into new homes but it’s only if they drag it out by for e.g not happy with homes suggested by social workers then it will take it into new year. They had Bramblebrook [1 of the original 5 Care Homes closed in June 2017] closed within 8 days of telling the staff, so we are thinking they will try to work fast.
In terms of our jobs they said they will redeploy us in the other DCC homes – all of which are currently overstaffed. Merrill sometimes has more staff than residents, so at the minute we as staff are quite worried we have asked if we can have redundancy they said at the minute it isn’t an option.”
So what happened to Cllr Repton’s “triple lock”?
The problem with the “triple lock” was that it would suffocate any business proposition.
The Care Homes ( with the exception of Arboretum House) have no en-suite facilities. Although the Council has spent money on superficial improvements in the last year, significant capital expenditure would be required to bring them up to standard. In order for the new owner to make a satisfactory return it would need to charge market rates, and not low Council rates – of the order of several hundred pounds per week, per resident. It is unlikely that the new owner would want to be burdened by Council staff pay terms and conditions imposed by TUPE.
The sales literature quotes the number of residents which are, now, considerably lower than the total number of rooms. None of the Homes has been allowed to take on new residents, as others have died, or moved due to higher nursing needs. The brochure actually states:
“Low occupancy is a deliberate effort of the current provider”
Coleridge House has the highest occupancy rate at nearly 50%.
As with many of the Council’s policies there is a lot of poorly thought through rhetoric which fails on implementation. It was obvious back in December 2016 that this would not work as a business proposition – clearly no one has actually come forwards on the original terms.
The Council planned costs savings of £209k against Care Homes for 2017/18. It’s unclear how moving people from low cost Council facilities into high cost private residences will save money…other than by expecting the families to subsidise the rates.
The Council needs capital receipts to help fund Moorways. The sale of the Care Homes will help deliver the latter – £1.5m.
It is clear that in order to finalise a sale of Coleridge House that they need to do this with no residents, and no staff before the bid deadline of 12th January 2018.
The knee-jerk policy to remove elderly people at short notice is not a caring one. It is not the sign of an ethical and responsible employer to leave around 100 staff “dangling” with no proper consultation , and no clear way forwards on their personal future. All in the lead up to Xmas…
No doubt Cllr Repton will blame this shambles on Tory Cuts as opposed to the Council’s transparent incompetence, and evident lack of care for these elderly people. His passionate speech about a “triple lock” was, as ever, disingenuous bluster to placate the audience, in the hope that no one would see the fundamental flaws in his policy which is now critically cracked, and “rent asunder”. Perhaps he should go back to basics and remind himself what a caring policy would look like.
Cllr Repton was invited to comment but chose not to respond.
Categories: Derby City Council