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Care Home Operators Call For Government Action Accepting National Fee Uplift

Scottish Care members have “reluctantly” decided to accept a 6% uplift in the National Care Home Contract rate that had been offered by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).

Following a week-long vote, providers took ‘an extremely reluctant decision’ to accept the offer, which had been made in May.

The provider body said “immense and unique challenges” facing its members had been made “significantly harder” since the Scottish government funded Agenda for Change settlement which meant workers in the NHS undertaking the same or similar role as a care home care worker were now being paid over 19% more.

In a media statement Scottish Care said: “The National Care Home Contract (NCHC) has provided stability for those organisations who provide care and support in both residential and nursing homes, continuity for those who act as commissioners and purchase care home places for local people and transparency for those who are residents. This stability is very important because over 70% of care home residents are funded by the State and it is the national Government that essentially sets the pay and terms and conditions of the thousands of workers who are employed by charities, voluntary organisations, and private providers.”

“At the moment the NCHC rates for residential and 24/7 nursing care are £838 for a nursing home and £719 for a residential care home. This is equivalent to around £5 per hour for complex care and support.”

“The NCHC is renewed annually between Scottish Care which represents providers and COSLA representing Local Government. It is based upon a cost model which is now outdated, but offers transparency, including putting a cap on profit at 4%.”

“Care home providers are being faced with immense and unique challenges at the present time. The primary one of these relate to the challenge of recruiting and retaining staff. This has been made significantly harder since the Scottish Government funded Agenda for Change settlement which means that from April this year a care-worker in the NHS undertaking the same or similar role as a care home care worker is now being paid over 19% more. In addition, like many other sectors care homes have been faced with crippling cost of living pressures most especially in relation to energy costs which for smaller care homes have resulted in a 500% plus increase. The difference with other sectors is care homes cannot simply put their NCHC rates up.”

“Faced with these significant pressures we have sadly witnessed the largest number of care home closures the sector has experienced in the last few months and the very real fear is that this will escalate at speed. Every week at least one care home is closing down. Unfortunately, it is the small, rural, and remote private and charitable care homes which are not managing to continue operating. This is an especial risk in Scotland where most private providers are small family run businesses.”

“Scottish Care recognises the immense pressure that local government is under, and we recognise that the offer made by COSLA of a 6% increase – is realistically the best that they can offer without additional Scottish Government funding.”

“The main reason for initial rejection and this remains the case is that this rate will not pay frontline workers the £12 an hour as a stepping stone to the £15 per hour they deserve, nor address the critical energy, food and other cost issues.”

“Care homes have reluctantly decided to accept the 6% because after four months of discussions the lack of additional finance from Scottish Government is placing more and more of them at risk of closure.”

“Regretfully as many have stated to us by making the decision to accept, they are only delaying the inevitable which is that many will have to close their doors within the next year.”

A Scottish government spokesperson said: “We are pleased Scottish Care members have voted to accept the offer from COSLA to agree the National Care Home Contract. We know the sector faces challenges and are committed to working with all partners to improve social care services.

“Over the last couple of years we have increased the pay for social care workers by more than 14%. We are looking at how we can plan for, attract, train, employ and nurture the workforce, working with COSLA on consistency of improved pay and conditions, improving access to training and development and ensuring a career in social care is attractive and rewarding.

“We are also continuing to work towards our commitment to increase spend in social care by 25% by the end of this Parliament, an increase of over £840 million.”