Wave of home closures leaves elderly stuck in ‘care warehouses’
I shuddered when I spotted this article in the telegraph yesterday – but also with a weary sense of recognition.
Community Catalysts has been fighting for years to help very small (micro) residential homes (often a husband-and-wife partnership who have been supporting one or two people in their own home) to negotiate the web of regulations, legislation and local authority commissioning practices in order to enable them to carry on providing highly personalised services for people they care about deeply. Small is not always beautiful but in our experience the vast majority of these very small care homes provide the kind of support that enable people to continue to stay connected to their community and to live a good life.
New regulation in 2002 in which small care homes were regulated in the same way as large care homes brought many of them to their knees and there was a wave of closures. Now local authorities facing financial pressure are passing on across-the-board fee reductions without any thought about the impact of this on very small businesses. Again small services are closing as a result and the people supported by those services are being warehoused with tragic personal consequences.
One small chink of light is that the value of small care homes is finally being highlighted in research and recognised by voluntary and public sector policy makers. Now we just need local commissioners to recognise the wider benefits they provide to the people they support and to local communities and the contribution they make to market diversity – and to ensure a more sophisticated approach to procurement and contracting which enables very small and micro services to flourish.
Sian Lockwood OBE