We need to sharpen our re­solve to re­ject el­derly care on the cheap

The Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

TO lose your home at any time is emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally hard and all the more so late in life.

So the clo­sure of any care home, for what­ever rea­son, has a deep im­pact not only on those who have come to call it “home”, but upon the tens of in­di­vid­u­als who have earned their liv­ing there and for whom it is a place of pur­pose and love.

The Her­ald’s rev­e­la­tion that a ma­jor char­i­ta­ble care home provider has found it nec­es­sary to with­draw from the older peo­ple’s care home sec­tor is both sad and trou­bling. It is also con­cern­ing there are a grow­ing num­ber of providers on the mar­gins of sus­tain­abil­ity and the lev­els of pub­lic fund­ing are wholly in­ad­e­quate. Whilst we should not be con­cerned that this is the start of a ma­jor set of clo­sures, it is a warn­ing sign that all is not well in the sec­tor.

At the heart of the is­sue is the ex­tent to which, as a so­ci­ety, we are will­ing to pay to prop­erly re­source the care and sup­port of some of our most vul­ner­a­ble ci­ti­zens. At cur­rent fee rates we are ef­fec­tively pay­ing less than £4 an hour for older in­di­vid­u­als, of­ten liv­ing with de­men­tia, to be cared for. Is that enough? I think not. What price are we pre­pared to put on care with dig­nity, giv­ing peo­ple choice and con­trol, care and en­abling them to live life to the full?

The de­vel­op­ing cri­sis in the care home sec­tor is par­tic­u­larly acute when it comes to the re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion of the work­force. There is a 28 per cent va­cancy level for nurses; and over 70 per cent of care homes are op­er­at­ing with posts un­filled.

Whilst Scot­tish Care, as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive body of care homes, is work­ing ac­tively with col­leagues in Cosla and the Scot­tish Govern­ment to re­shape pro­vi­sion for the fu­ture, the events of the last day should help us sharpen our re­solve to en­sure we de­velop a care home sec­tor which doesn’t try to de­liver care on the cheap but of­fers real rights-based care to our older ci­ti­zens. Be­hind ev­ery head­line there is some­one who has lost that place they call home. We must en­sure that that num­ber does not grow.

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