Warning that Norfolk could run out of care home places within five years - unless action is taken
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A sobering report into Norfolk's care homes has revealed places for council-funded residential care will run out within five years - unless action is taken.
The study, drawn up by Norfolk County Council, warns it could be a similar story for those who fund their own places.
And the study also paints a worrying picture over the standards of some of the care homes in the county.
Norfolk ranks bottom of the table in the East of England for the percentage of care homes rated as good or outstanding by watchdogs, with almost a quarter rated as inadequate or needing improvement.
At a recent meeting of the council's adult social care committee, Liberal Democrat David Harrison said he had 'serious concerns'.
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However, council bosses say they are taking action to provide new spaces, invigorate the market, help improve the quality of the private care homes and make it easier for people to remain in their own homes.
Bill Borrett, chairman of the council's adult social care committee, said: 'The prediction is based on a 'no change' scenario and we are not standing still on the future supply of care homes.
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'By 2028, more than 2,800 new extra care housing units will be needed, so we are taking action now to make sure that there is the right support for those who need it – both now and in the future.
'We know more people want to live in their own homes and as part of our drive to promote independence, we are focussing on early help and prevention to give people the best chance to live longer at home.
'Providers are also helping to re-shape the provision – adjusting their care so it can support people with dementia.'
The council also launched Living Well: Homes for Norfolk, with £29m to provide an extra 3,000 homes where people can get help while living independently.
On the quality of privately-run care homes, Mr Borrett said the council tried to improve standards.
He said: 'Over the last twelve months there have already been marked improvements with an increase in homes rated 'good' or 'outstanding' – in nursing this has risen from 68.2pc to 75.8pc and in residential, from 72.9pc to 79.4pc. Our target is to have a minimum of 85pc of homes good or outstanding by April 2020 and we are on target to achieve this.'
Case studies: Gulf in standards at care homes
One of the Norfolk homes rated as 'outstanding' is Ford Place Nursing Home in Thetford.
Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited the home in November last year and, their report, they said: 'Staff provided seamless care working together to ensure they met people's needs.
'We observed kind, compassionate staff spending time with people and their families to ensure peoples' well-being and offering support around their individual needs.'
The safety, effectiveness and caring nature of the home were rated good and the response and the leadership outstanding. An overall outstanding rating was given.
But Northgate House on Links Avenue, Hellesdon, was inspected by the CQC in September, where it was found to be inadequate.
Norfolk County Council had removed all of its sponsored residents earlier in the year.