In recent years Kent County Council has been successful in reducing the demand for long-term residential care. However, as people live longer and dementia becomes more prevalent, the scope for further reductions may be limited.
Earlier this month BUPA has put up sale notices for 200 of its 290 care homes citing the sharp cuts in Government funding for the elderly. It was reported in the Financial Times (9th October 2015) that the UK's four biggest care home-owners, which are predominately focused on the state-funded market, that there is a risk of a "catastrophic collapse" in the sector.
Is the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care & Public Health able to reassure members that there will continue to be adequate capacity in the independent sector to meet the needs of Kent?
Kent County Council and its partners launched an Accommodation Strategy in July 2014 that identified the future number of care home beds needed across Kent by location and type up to 2021. There will be less need for general frailty care homes and a greater need for care homes for people with dementia and for those who require nursing care. Both KCC and the Clinical Commissioning Groups are working to keep people in their own homes for as long as possible with the right level of support and the pilot projects have shown excellent results in demonstrating the success through the Adult Transformation Programme.
In terms of capacity in the independent sector, KCC is actively working with providers and developers for new provision of approx. 1000 units of extra care housing and approx. 500 care home beds. We are also working with existing providers to remodel services so that they are able to meet the needs of residents in the future.
In addition, the Care Act places a duty on the local authorities to maintain appropriate market oversight and we are closely monitoring the challenges in the sector. These include the need for a Workforce Strategy which brings more nurses into the sector and the impact of the introduction of the National Living Wage. It is these issues that have led BUPA, and other providers, to issue their warnings about the future in advance of November's Comprehensive Spending Review.
In recognition of the significant additional pressures facing the sector, particularly due to the National Living Wage, I have written to the Chief Secretary of the Treasury to highlight the importance of the right settlement for Adult Social Care in the CSR in order for there to continue to be adequate capacity in future.