Concerns that Essex care homes are running below levels they need to stay viable
PUBLISHED: 10:00 25 October 2020
Significant levels of vacancy within care homes in Essex has led to concerns that many are not getting the level of business that keeps them viable.
Between early March and early July, care homes in Essex recorded around 230 Covid-19- related deaths.
This death toll appears to be leaving many wary about putting their loved ones in a care home, where during the height of the pandemic visitors were not allowed to enter in a bid to protect those residents inside.
Essex County Council’s half yearly report has revealed a £4.1million underspend in health and adult social care.
Within that budget a reduced volume in older people residential care and domiciliary care has left the council £3.4million better off.
Councillor John Spence, cabinet member for adult social care, told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, (October 20): “Our care standards are holding up, domiciliary care volumes are actually increasing somewhat.
“It is true that the numbers in residential care have reduced but below the budget level.
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“That is causing significant levels of vacancy in care homes across Essex.
“We are working with officers to understand better, to ensure appropriate patterns of support are in place.
“Many of them are benefiting from long term booking through to March next year.
“We recognise sitting here in October we need to move ahead of the implications for the sector.”
Labour group leader, Councillor Ivan Henderson, said: “I think there are probably two reasons – wary about sending them in but also once they are in there they can’t see them and they lose total contact with them.
“I imagine families are really concerned. They have seen it for themselves where that contact is lost and in tragic circumstances sometimes they have lost their loved ones without being able to be with them for those final days of their lives.
“There is obviously something going on for these underspends to happen and Essex needs to get to the bottom of it not only to perhaps alleviate some of those fears and provide assurances.
“But my concern is also for the care industry, because if they are running with large vacancies how long are some of those care homes going to be able to exist?
“We have more than 500 care homes in greater Essex, how many of those are running below the number of beds they need to remain viable?”
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