27/11/2012 1 Comment
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.