Old people’s homes ‘will close’ unless funding deal reviewed

Robert Kilgour says old people's homes are at risk. File picture
Robert Kilgour says old people's homes are at risk. File picture
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OLD people’s homes will close unless a new deal on “fairer” funding can be reached between councils and the private sector, the boss of one care home chain claimed today.

Robert Kilgour, chairman of Renaissance Care, which has three homes in Edinburgh and one in Musselburgh, said local authorities spent far more per resident in council-run homes than in privately run homes.

And he called on the Scottish Government to set up an independent review of costs and funding across all sectors involved in elderly care.

Industry body Scottish Care is due to have talks with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on March 1.

But Mr Kilgour said if a satisfactory agreement could not be reached, the outcome for the future of independent elderly care would be “dire”.

He said there was a “ticking time bomb” of growing demand for care home places, but warned existing homes would be forced to close and planned new ones would not be built, leading to a net loss of places and increased pressure on the NHS and more bed-blocking with elderly people having to be cared for in hospitals.

Mr Kilgour said Edinburgh spent up to £1019 per week for a resident in a council-run home compared with the nationally-set £609 per week for residents in private homes.

He said: “Independent operators provide a vital role in the provision of elderly care, but unless there is a far fairer and more equitable approach to funding the private provision, the sad fact is that this will simply collapse.

“How can it be right that local authorities are able to pay their own employees the higher living wage of £7.85 an hour, soon to rise to £8.25, as defined by the Living Wage Foundation, yet refuse to finance independent care companies to pay the new statutory national living wage of £7.20 an hour, which comes into force in April – let alone any move towards the £8.25 version of the living wage.

“There is simply no fat left in our businesses after the last ten years of recession and ongoing extra costs and requirements set by increased regulation. We urgently need government action and support. A level playing field on funding is all we ask.”

City health and social care convener Ricky Henderson said there was a greater proportion of residents with dementia and challenging behaviour in council-run homes, which meant more staff and higher 
costs.

He said Edinburgh paid for 430 residents in council-run homes and 613 in the private sector, as well as 276 outside the city.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com