Suffolk Care Providers Conference

Last Wednesday I attended the 2012 Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers Annual Conference where they invited myself and my team to speak at the end of a very successful event where over 150 people and 16 exhibitors packed the conference facilities at the Ufford Hotel, near Woodbridge.

I spoke about a number of things but principally about our relationship as we together provide Care to those who need our support.  It’s good to see that so many people have stayed to the end of a very successful event.

I said that these are difficult times for everybody involved in the care business due to the economic climate which shows no sign of easing – for social workers, providers and commissioners. These are also challenging and changing times for those older and disabled people who are being offered a different ‘deal’ that prevailed during seemingly better economic times. Of course People are living longer which is a cause for celebration but with that comes the need for more health and social care with much less money.

I also said a few words about the reform of the Country’s care and support systems including an overhaul of the current social care legislation which is very welcome and that I still remain very optimistic about government action to the Dilnot recommendations and I do believe that a cap will eventually be set on an individual’s liability for care costs and the insurance market will develop new care insurance products.

I also shared my impression at the recent National Children’s and Adult’s conference in Bournemouth and Norman Lamb MP the new Care Minister’s recommitment to significant change and I said that for those in the room who delivered Residential Care that they needed to make sure their accounting procedures make that distinction between care costs and pricing and the hotel element of the accommodation provision.

One of the exhibitors was Care Aware our SCC funded service to provide people with financial advice as they consider Care services; this is our response to how we are going to cope with people increasingly failing out of being able to pay for their Care homes costs; this model of funded advice is now being adapted by other councils across the County.

I then spoke about the very positive and collaborative partnership between SAICP and SCC. Of course its not without its tensions especially around money but I was very pleased that we were able to agree a 2 year pricing deal which provided some certainty and stability going forward.

The care market across the Country is in a relatively fragile state although I did note from a national report for 2011 that care home profit margins increased marginally during 2011 to stand at 30.5% of total income and care homes occupancy rates rebounded to stand at 87.8% for the UK as a whole.

Another recent report published by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Lead Government Association for 2011/12, told us that the rate of permanent council funded admissions to care homes of all ages has began to rise, reversing the trend of previous years.

While the number of people aged 65 and over receiving home care fell by 2% between 2010/11 and 2011/12. However the number of people receiving direct payments increased by 20% which could account in part for the decline in home care.

So year on year there are the market trends but looking at our demographics there will be a growing number of people using care services and we will continue to work with Suffolk providers to see their businesses grow supporting people across Suffolk.

Next I tackled the subject of the new relationship we are forging in Suffolk with Care UK taking over the running of our 16 residential homes for older people and eventually replacing them with 10 new Care Homes and bringing a £60Million investment with it. Not to mention that SCC will save money over the period of the contract (£11.5m), we will avoid a backlog of maintenance of £7.5m and future maintenance costs of £25m not to improve but to maintain. And importantly it will increase much needed capacity in specialist care and the provision of nursing care is an aspiration I have for the sector.

In closing I said I recognise that we are partners, in fact we are the biggest partnership in Suffolk, together we look after the most vulnerable people in Suffolk and in this respect ours is perhaps the gravest responsibility in Suffolk, as indeed it is and long may it remain so.

Remembrance Weekend and the coming elections

Remembrance Weekend is always a busy one and the moment that the life of this particular Councillors moves form trying to represent his community by working in the cabinet of Suffolk County Council and as Chairman of the Audit Committee on my local Council Forest Heath District Council to a more civic role, as I lay wreaths in West Row, Beck Row and Lakenheath to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice from our communities.

On Saturday the act of Remembrance in West Row was and always is very low key with just a handful of people attending and remembering those who fought in wars from this very rural community. On the other side of the massive USAF Air Base Mildenhall the ceremony first thing Sunday morning in Beck Row is always well attended and in two parts; first there is a wreath laying ceremony at the War Memorial in the village with a back drop of seeing war planes turning on part of the runway visible through the gaps in the cottages of the village and then on to the Church where tucked in behind is a War Graves location; which this year looked resplendent with the memorial has been given a spring clean; then its into the church where about 50 of us attend a Remembrance Service.

In the afternoon its Lakenheath’s turn where we gather and March through the village to the sounds of the Lakenheath Marching Silver band, to the War memorial for the wreath laying ceremony. I was immensely proud that so many of us line the High Street and walk up as the Parade passes by and gather at the War Memorial to lay wreaths; it was great to see so many children watching, whilst it is about honouring those you made the ultimate sacrifice its also about our living history and the fact that our freedom and rights have been hard won, and hopefully this simply act of laying wreaths brings this living history to life for us all.

After the ceremony there was a packed church for the Remembrance Service and it was great to see the new Order of Service booklets I commissioned and funded from my locality fund being used for the first time, it made the service a lot easier to follow than in previous years with the various sheets and books we had to juggle.

The eleventh hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleven Month is always a time of reflection about those who made the ultimate sacrifice and occasionally you do wonder what that sacrifice was for; this week we see the Police and Crime Commissioner elections something as Area Chairman for the Conservative Party I am involved in having overseen the selection of the Conservative Party Candidate in both Norfolk and Suffolk and helped in a small way to runt heir campaigns.

Its been a long campaign and very interesting as the subject has been debated and both in hustings in the media and on the doorstep. Both Jamie Athill in Norfolk and Tim Passmore is Suffolk have worked tremendously hard and unlike the Labour candidates who seems to have not bothered to venture out of the heartlands in Norwich and Ipswich; understand rural crime and the need for effective policing in both the main town and city and where the majority of us live, in rural communities is the principle issue before whoever wins the elections and I know Jamie and Tim do and I see no signs that the Labour candidates are remotely interesting in our rural communities.

The turn out will be low I think we all accept this but is that because people are disinterested or that people do not thing the police oversight should in anyway be political that is I suspect going to be debated over the coming months, whoever wins. What has struck me on the door step is not those issues but more people not understanding what the role is and indeed the motion of electing someone to a specific role. Perhaps judgement on the success or otherwise of this new Role will need to be reserved for 4 years time when the second election takes place as to just how the new approach’ this new Police and Crime Commissioner role have captured the public attention. It is will be busy week ahead campaigning and I shall be in helping out at the Great Yarmouth count on Friday morning to see it all unfold across Norfolk and Suffolk.

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