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Closure of a dozen care homes adds to pressure on care for Norfolk's most vulnerable

PUBLISHED: 08:57 29 October 2019 | UPDATED: 08:57 29 October 2019

The pressures on adult social care in Norfolk have been laid bare in a report to county councillors. Pic: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The pressures on adult social care in Norfolk have been laid bare in a report to county councillors. Pic: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

JONATHAN BRADY

The pressures on the care system for some of the most vulnerable people in Norfolk have been laid bare, with a new report revealing a dozen care homes closed last year - leading to the loss of 173 beds.

County councillor Bill Borrett. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.County councillor Bill Borrett. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

A report drawn up by Norfolk County Council says it is spending £328m each year to commission care services for about 17,500 a year.

And pressure is increasing, with the number of people aged over 75 in Norfolk projected to increase by 35,000 in the next decade.

While the council is taking steps to keep people in their own homes, some will always need residential care and officers at County Hall are concerned about the pressures on the independent care market.

Their report, which will go before county councillors next week, says some homes closed due to care quality concerns and financial viability problem.

And it comes against a backdrop of independent providers struggling to recruit and retain staff.

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While a dozen care homes shut, only four new homes opened, with just 16 beds.

And the council says it "has difficulties making nursing care placements in most areas of Norfolk". In some cases, beds are "vacant", but "unusable".

That could be because the care home is not sufficiently staffed, the enhanced care required is not available or the care home may not accept the fees the council is prepared to pay for it.

Bill Borrett, cabinet member for adult social care, public health and prevention at the county council, said: "We rely on private companies to provide the vast majority of care places in Norfolk and they are facing major demand and cost pressures.

"That's why we invested an extra £11.3m in the care market last year.

"The council is also extending initiatives like extra care housing, assistive technology and support for carers, so that people can remain independent for as long as possible and spend less time in formal care, as this is what residents tell us they want to see."

The report will be discussed by the controlling Conservative cabinet at a meeting on Monday, November 4.

The council is budgeting for a 3.99pc rise in its share of council tax bills next year, of which 2pc would be ring-fenced to spend on adult social care.

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