On Tuesday 13th October, I moved a motion at Essex County Council’s Full Council meeting, asking the Council to call on the Government to provide a separate funding arrangement for social care, as it does for education. It also asked for the Council to lobby the Government to ensure caring is professionalised with appropriate national standards of training and skill acquisition. I also asked to reopen its own local care homes and to take backed failed care homes into local authority.
You can see a copy of the motion below.
‘This Council notes recent news from CQC highlighting the care homes in Essex providing inadequate care and acknowledges that while some private sector homes provide excellent care, others without adequate funding and resources do not.
This Council therefore calls on the Government to provide a separate funding arrangement for social care, as it does with funding for education, which must be based on need and funded in-line with anticipated demographic pressures facing Essex.
This Council also calls on the administration to lobby Government to ensure that caring is professionalised with appropriate national standards of training and skill acquisition.
Further the authority should lead the private sector by example and reopen its own local care homes to act as an exemplar and where possible be ready to take back failed homes into local authority control.’
Unfortunately we lost the motion even though almost everyone agreed with the basic principle, just not the last paragraph, of reopening its own care homes.
Cllr Madden the Cabinet Member for Adults and Children first words were to not support this motion. He said that they are already lobbying the Government to get more funding for social care. He did agree with me that it is not about party politics which I mentioned in my speech. He said that since the beginning of September he has asked the Peoples Committee to put together a Task and Finish Group to look into the scrutinising of Residential Care and Home Care which they will also look at how they can make care work a profession. Why was this not done sooner? Partridge Care Home has been under considerable strain for a couple of years now, why was there no support sooner? He mentioned that there is no way that the administration will reopen local care homes. This is disappointing.
We did get a lot of support from the other political parties. One member mentioned that the biggest providers of care homes have a combined debt of £5 billion, the providers make it difficult for assessors to get access to scrutinise their running of their care homes due to complex structures. They also mentioned that the care home providers are more concerned with money coming in than the care of the residents. In some cases I could believe this but I wouldn’t say all care homes are like this.
Cllr Durcan said that the current system is not fit for purpose; this is why we are calling on the administration to support this motion before it’s too late. It seems to have become a postcode lottery.
Another member of the opposition said that they are not placing residents into the failing care homes, that’s fair enough but then don’t just leave them to fail, support them to turn the care home around. Like Partridge Care Home they have put procedures in place, why not then roll this out to all care homes failing or not?
Cllr Young produced a document undertaken by Laing Buisson (to look at this document click on this link http://www.countycouncilsnetwork.org.uk/countycaremarkets/) it mentions that there is no sustainability going forward in the care market and that they rely on the self-funders. If we are not careful then providers will start to fall out of the market. So we need to start preparing now and start to take the care homes back into local authority care.
In a different report (link to the report http://www.essex.gov.uk/Publications/Documents/Shock_system_HSCS.pdf) there is quote in the foreword of the report from the Leader of the Administration Cllr Finch ‘there is a growing consensus that our health and social care system is unstable and will face a considerable funding gap in this decade, unless there is action taken’
One member said this motion addresses important issues and another member agreed that it is good in parts and little disagreement of the issues across the chamber.
When Cllr Danvers came to sum up the debate he said that this motion has been given a good debate and if this motion was passed then it would give a stronger message to the National Government that the social care system is failing. One member said that the council is helping more residents to stay in their homes and have home care but as Cllr Danvers mentioned this is not possible for all residents. He also asked if the Conservatives thought the motion was good in parts why did they not do an amendment to the motion that we could have considered.
After a good debate though where members agreed in part we still lost the motion.
Below is the speech I gave for the motion. You can also hear this and the other motions from the Full Council Meeting here http://cmis.essexcc.gov.uk/essexcmis5/CalendarofMeetings/tabid/73/ctl/ViewMeetingPublic/mid/410/Meeting/3312/Committee/50/SelectedTab/Documents/Default.aspx
Thank you Mr Chairman
This motion is being seconded by Cllr Danvers
At a time when there are increasing demands on social care in general, and on care homes in particular, there is also increasing strain on funding for such care.
While some private care homes undoubtedly provide excellent care, there are unfortunately too many that do not.
Having painstakingly trawled the Care Quality Commission’s website, not exactly designed to impart information easily, I know that across Essex there are 8 care homes that were assessed by the CQC as being inadequate, and a further 37 care homes that require improvement.
There will no doubt be more when other care homes are inspected for the first time under the new regime.
In my own Division in Harlow West, Partridge Care Home, which has been under strain for some time, was recently assessed as inadequate and was the subject of national media coverage less than a month ago.
It was inadequately staffed, One staff member told inspectors: "We are so short at times that we drop from five staff to one and the nurse. When this happens there is no time for dressings just medication and we do what we can.
Training was also found to be inadequate. Inspectors found that Staff could not recall being trained into how to protect people against the risks of abuse but had signed training records to say they knew how to do so,.
Having met with the Director for Local delivery, I am confident that the appropriate measures are being put in place to turn Partridge Care Home around, but the lessons learnt here should be applied across the sector, before there is another high profile failure.
We should call on the Government to provide the appropriate funding, to ensure that the care profession is treated as a profession, as nursing rightly is.
This motion calls on us all to stand up for our residents, our friends, and our relatives.
This motion is not about party politics, it is about recognizing that the most vulnerable members of our society deserve, and should expect, the very best standards of care.
They deserve, and should get, respect and dignity in old age.
They deserve, and should expect, the standards we would all want for our loved ones in every element of the health and social care sector
This motion is about demanding that social care receives the attention, professionalism, and funding, it deserves.
I move the motion.