Care home managers slam City Council “woeful” handling of COVID-19
New data from the Sheffield Care Association has revealed that a third of all care home beds in the city could face closure in a matter of weeks.
A third of care home managers and providers claimed that local government support for care homes during the COVID-19 outbreak has been inadequate with a further 23% going further and branding it woeful.
Half stated that the additional funding provided by the council was insufficient.
The financial pressures faced by homes during the pandemic have compounded the historic under-funding of adult social care in Sheffield. The combined impact of these pressures has led care home managers and providers to cast doubt over the future of their homes.
Most care homes in the city only make a profit if running at or near capacity and many have seen a number of empty beds due to increased deaths and lower admissions into the sector.
This has led managers and providers to predict that they will need to close a third (34%) of their beds to try to balance the books.
Nicola Richards, Chair of the Sheffield Care Association, commented:
“The long-term funding of Sheffield’s care sector must be guaranteed.
“We are aware that there are some estimations that Sheffield has too many beds in care homes, but we need a structured approach to managing this reduction, not forcing care homes to the wall at a time of crisis which may happen if homes do not receive adequate financial support from Sheffield City Council.
“If they do not get support when they need it more than ever, residents will be fearful of their future, families anxious and the hard-working staff who have sacrificed so much in recent months will be betrayed.”
Sheffield City Council was recently criticised in a report for its Scrutiny Committee which highlighted concerns raised by families, staff, advocates and care homes.
Among the findings, the report criticises the Council for:
- Increased bureaucracy, with an overload of requests for information and forms to fill in for various agencies
- Incorrect information/guidance being sent out
- A blame culture and lack of moral support
- Difficulties in obtaining responses to queries on finance and funding
- Delay in getting crisis funding to the frontline, and that the crisis funding is insufficient to cover the additional costs of the Covid-19 emergency
- Accessing PPE has been difficult and expensive
- Concerns about patients who had tested positive for Covid-19 being discharged back into care homes, or care home residents not being tested before hospital discharge
- Availability and guidance around testing lacked clarity, and that the testing process was bureaucratic
The report also highlighted Sheffield Care Association’s concern that at the height of the pandemic response (9th April), Sheffield City Council announced a real-terms cut in funding to the city’s care homes.
Bal Kharia, owner of Vitality Care Homes, is also a member of the Sheffield Care Association and added:
“Care homes in Sheffield have been in a fragile state for a number of years and this was before the COVID-19 crisis began. Recent events have put us under intense pressure and the Association is extremely concerned that care homes will soon face closure.
“The people this will affect hardest are the most vulnerable in our communities – our residents. It will also have a huge impact on our dedicated and loyal staff who have worked miracles during the COVID-19 response.
“We need a cast iron commitment from the Council to guarantee funding levels, protect our services and an independent review of the cost of care in the city.”
Ms. Richards who runs Palms Row Health Care, added:
“The actions of Sheffield City Council during COVID-19 have led to a collapse in confidence in the city administration among care homes and we simply don’t believe that a review led by the officials and councillors involved in recent decision making will be fair nor give the city a long term solution. We are hoping we can move forward and work closely with SCC to support our homes during the most challenging period in our sector.”