Suffolk care homes to be transferred to new operator

All Suffolk County Council-owned care homes for older people are set to be transferred to a new operator.

A meeting of the council's cabinet on Tuesday, April 17 is to be asked to approve the transfer of 16 care homes to a new owner, whose identity will be unveiled at the meeting, once final assessments are complete.

The deal includes the county council's eight wellbeing centres – and will involve about 1,400 employees.

The council said that the bidders have had to demonstrate how they would ensure that enough specialist places for people with dementia and complex care needs would be provided.

Would-be operators have also had to prove that they are financially sound and have the drive, commitment and expertise to run and develop the council's care homes and wellbeing centres.

The process to identify a new provider began in May last year when the council's cabinet members indicated that their preferred option for the future was for an external provider to take over the running of the homes and centres.

A total of 23 expressions of interest were received and the selection process began.

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The new provider will take full ownership of all the care homes and wellbeing centres with staff being transferred.

However the move has been criticsied by the the union UNISON.

A spokesman said: 'UNISON is astounded by the determination of the county council to press ahead with plans to sell off Suffolk's care homes despite the outpouring of public opinion against these proposals last year.

'We feel that this flies in the face of the so-called 'public consultation' exercise and commitment to listening to the views of the people of Suffolk.

'UNISON is concerned, not only for the 1,400 staff who will be forced to transfer to a new provider with potentially poorer terms and conditions, but also for Suffolk residents who will no longer have the safety net of Suffolk County Council should their care not be up to standard.'

Colin Noble, the council's portfolio-holder for adult and community services, said: 'We have been very thorough throughout the whole process and we shall be ensuring the very best solution for residents, their families and staff.

'We have looked at how they run existing homes and the importance they place on the level of care.'

He rejected claims that the council needed to run its own homes to provide a standard against which other operators could be judged.

Mr Noble said: 'We are responsible for 2,300 in other care homes and have 476 residents in our own homes – we shall still be responsible for ensuring they all get the highest possible standard of care.'

He said that by 2030 the number of older people and those suffering with dementia in the county was expected to double and a 'new approach' to care was being developed.

Suffolk County Council care homes:

1. The Dell, Beccles

2. Blyford, Lowestoft

3. Stradbroke Court, Lowestoft

4. Angel Court, Hadleigh

5. Sidegate Lane, Ipswich

6. Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich

7. Crabbe Street, Ipswich

8. Mills Meadow, Framlingham

9. Lehmann House, Wickham Market

10. Wade House, Stowmarket

11. Paddock House, Eye

12. Ixworth Court, Ixworth

13. Place Court, Haverhill

14. Wamil Court, Mildenhall

15. Davers Court, Bury St Edmunds

16. Glastonbury Court, Bury St Edmunds

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