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PETITION CALLS ON COUNCIL TO STEP UP TO END CITY-WIDE CARE CRISIS

Public urged to sign petition: http://chng.it/qKJPcRYhdS

Care homes across Sheffield have united to call on Sheffield City Council to do more to support residents and staff.

The Council has received £36m from the government to support the COVID-19 response and the Sheffield Care Association has calculated that the latest offer from the Council is worth just £1.16m to the city’s care homes over three months. [1]

Care leaders have warned that without more immediate and long-term support, the care sector faces being overwhelmed by a “tsunami” that could see homes across the city close. [2]

The petition highlights how care fees are lower in Sheffield than surrounding cities and towns wit

h many homes struggling to meet their weekly outgoings.

This is despite most care and ancillary staff only receiving minimum wage, which care operators wish to increase. However, Sheffield homes were recently rocked by a real-terms cut in funding with the “4.9% rise” in payments not enough to cover the rising cost of even minimum wage. [3]

The petition launched on Friday 15th May and calls for Sheffield City Council to end the crisis in the city’s care homes by:

  • Immediately increasing fees by the 15% recommended by Care England to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. [4]

  • Making the planned strategic review of care in the city independent of current office holders and decision makers and for it to be published by September 2020.

  • Ensuring care homes are given the adequate support and funding they need now and in the future.

The petition is supported by families of care residents, including Ginette Farrell and Barbara Beighton whose father is a resident at Northfield Care Home in the city. Ginette commented:

“During this difficult period our Dad has received wonderful loving care given by a most dedicated team. We recognise they are working under extreme conditions often at risk to their own personal safety. We feel that Sheffield Council should help more in shouldering the burden towards the extra costs incurred during these very challenging times.”

Roy Young operates Silver Healthcare and he commented:

“Sheffield City Council’s recent financial offers are quite frankly insulting. It puts yet more lives at risk and threatens the future of even more homes. We demand a debate by the full Council about this scandal and the problems the current administration has allowed to grow on its watch.”

“Although Sheffield City Council has recently recommended that Cabinet approves a comprehensive strategy review of the older adult care home sector in Sheffield, I feel it may be too little too late, and I would have very little confidence in what the final outcome would be, after years of torment and empty promises something must happen very soon to safeguard the future of care within the city.”

Organised by the Sheffield Care Association, the petition has the support of its chair Nicola Richards who runs Palms Row Health Care. Ms Richards added:

“The message should be clear: care homes in the city are on a cliff edge and it is time the Council realised what its actions in recent years have led to.

“While care homes are fighting for residents’ lives, we are being abandoned by the authorities who have for too long seen us as a Cinderella service.

“Council are essentially trying to tell us what an older person’s life is worth and telling us they don’t have the funding to pass on the money needed to fight coronavirus. Providers are warning that unless beds are guaranteed in the medium-term we may see care homes close or have to lay off the staff that have shown such dedicated service during this national crisis.

“Enough is enough it is high time the Council was held to account for its actions.”

Alykhan Kachra, Managing Director of Country Court Care, which runs care homes across the UK, including in Sheffield, said:

“I have grave concerns for the care home market in Sheffield, which has been suppressed for several years. Providers commissioned a report highlighting major risks to the market in 2018, which the Council ignored and only applied a minimal increase to their fee as they have done for the last year as well.

“The 5% uplift this year and the 5% Covid-19 increase does not come close to meeting the needs of homes even prior to this pandemic when factoring in additional PPE and staff costs.

“SCC’s argument behind their suppressed fee has always been that that homes enjoy a higher than standard occupancy level to compensate for the low fee; with homes occupancies rapidly declining I am not sure how many homes will be able to survive.

“I wrote to Phil Holmes and Joe Horobin last year outlining these concerns but received no response and a decision was made by Cabinet without taking these into account. Some of the concerns about the durability of the market I raised have sadly, been proved to be true.”

The petition can be signed at http://chng.it/qKJPcRYhdS

ENDS

Palms Row / Sheffield Care Association media enquiries to communications@palmsrow.co.uk.

[1] SCC have increased the weekly fee rate for a bed from GBP505 to GBP539 with their 5% increase, a rise of GBP25. This difference equates to GBP325 for a 3 month period. SCC calculate that there are 3,557 beds in the city, even assuming all were occupied and paid for, this increase is GBP1,156,025.

[2] Press Association and media reports on 11 May 2020. Detail available at https://www.palmsrow.co.uk/single-post/2020/05/11/CARE-HOMES-SPENDING-38m-A-WEEK-ON-COVID-19

[3] https://www.palmsrow.co.uk/single-post/2020/04/15/CARE-HOMES-HIT-BY-SHOCK-CUT-IN-FUNDING

[4] Local authorities were awarded GBP1.6bn on 19 March 2020 and a further GBP1.6bn on 18 April 2020 to support COVID-19 services such as care homes. The Local Government Association and ADSS recommended councils uplift rates by 10% to meet the COVID-19 challenge. Care England recommends this should be 15%. The Secretary of State for Communities wrote to Councils on 30 April 2020 insisting that 10% is the uplift required, the letter is available to read online.

 

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