Cash for care homes

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Care homes in Norfolk could share in a £1.26m windfall to improve the quality of life for elderly residents.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Care homes in Norfolk could share in a £1.26m windfall to improve the quality of life for elderly residents.

The county council has been allocated the cash, one of the largest amounts in the country, as part of the Department of Health's £67.7m capital grant to enhance the physical environment of residential care homes.

And now it is urging care homes to apply for the cash by submitting details of improvement schemes of more than £5,000 by March 9.

Projects could include:

Replacing worn-out carpeting or floor coverings, to reduce the risk of falls

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Upgrading dining rooms to improve food intake

Redecorating or upgrading residents' bedrooms, to engender a sense of self-worth

Upgrading bathrooms to enhance self-care

Improving gardens or outside spaces used by residents, to encourage outdoor exercise

Alterations that would give the residents greater privacy

Providing information technology that benefits older residents, for example residents' access to internet and email

An application form and a summary of the grant is being sent to all homes that qualify for a share in the award to enable them to bid for some of the money.

The county council must submit details of how and where the money will be spent to the government by March 28.

A condition of the funding is that it is used to benefit the maximum number of care-home residents rather than enable large-scale or expensive redevelopments.

Any improvement should also directly benefit residents and should not be too big so that it will lead to increased fees.

Chris Mowle, cabinet member for adult social services, said: "This is a real boost for residential homes in Norfolk and an excellent opportunity to improve the care given to Norfolk's older people.

I hope that homes will put in a bid for a share of the funding as it is an opportunity to make some small changes which could make a real difference to older people."

Dennis Bacon, chairman of Norfolk Independent Care Homes, said: "We naturally welcome any announcement that provides much-needed funding for care homes. Many small providers of residential care have been unable to invest in improvements because of central government's underfunding of the sector in Norfolk. This grant should help providers improve their homes for the benefit of those in need."