Two care homes forced to close as council fees fail to cover costs
Shawe Lodge Nursing Home in Urmston and Shawe House Care Home in Flixton are to close in May 2018. The care provider running them cannot be certain that it will be able to meet the care needs of residents in the future, following years of receiving fees from the local authority, Trafford Council, that do not meet operating costs. In addition, the provider has cited a lack of support or willingness to work in partnership from the national care regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Shawe House Care, the operator of the two homes, made the decision to close Shawe House after unsuccessful attempts, over the past year, to increase the fees in each home. Concerns were expressed by the provider regarding ability to sustain levels of service going forward. With the intended closure of Shawe House the providers intended to focus their resources on the redevelopment of the larger and more appropriate environment at Shawe Lodge. At the same time, the CQC has failed to support the provider in seeking alternative solutions. A period of six weeks for this investment was deemed inappropriate by the CQC and consequently the company has no choice but to close both homes. The priority now is to ensure that residents at both homes are helped to find alternative placements that meet their individual care needs.
Shawe House Care is committed to providing high quality care for all of its residents. However, the long term issue of underfunding at Shawe Lodge and Shawe House has gradually impacted on the standard of care that can be provided at both homes. Both homes had received an overall rating of ‘Requires Improvement’ from the CQC, although both are rated ‘Good’ in the Caring category. Senior management at Shawe House Care sought to work with the CQC to find a solution that met the needs of residents at both homes, and in the wider area, but were deeply disappointed by what they considered to be an unsupportive response.
With no end in sight to the issue of underfunding, and in an environment where it feels it cannot rely on the regulator to provide a fair level of support, the care provider has taken the very difficult decision to close the homes, as it is unable to invest further to maintain or improve standards in the future.
This issue is symptomatic of the funding crisis affecting care homes across the country. In 2017 Care England, the national representative body for independent care providers, commissioned an independent report into the True Cost of Care and Social Care Underfunding. This report estimated that the ‘true cost of care’ shortfall in funding for the financial year 2016/17 was at least £3bn in England alone, far outstripping the £2bn of additional funding outlined in the Budget earlier that year.
Umi Barwell, Operations Director, said;
“We are heartbroken that we have had to take this incredibly difficult decision. Our priority is always to provide the best care for residents, and we are working closely with every family to find alternative places that are right for each resident. The distressing fact is that we are simply not able to provide the levels of care they rightly expect under the current funding arrangement.
“We recognise that local authorities are under huge budget pressures, but social care is vitally important for our aging population.
“At the same time, the care regulator, which is supposed to support providers to deliver the best care for residents, has been exceptionally unhelpful in relation to both of these homes, appearing unwilling to work with us in the partnership approach you would expect from such an important body.
“We cannot cut corners in care provision. It’s not fair on residents, on their families, or on the dedicated people who work in the care profession. I hope this case acts as a wakeup call to the Council. Otherwise other care providers may face the same situation.”