Talk over residential care shake-up

Shaun Lowthorpe Union leaders are to hold talks with council officials over plans to overhaul residential care for the elderly in Norfolk.The county council wants to switch the focus away from care homes to more housing- with-care schemes.

Shaun Lowthorpe

Union leaders are to hold talks with council officials over plans to overhaul residential care for the elderly in Norfolk.

The county council wants to switch the focus away from care homes to more housing- with-care schemes.

A new strategy is to be discussed by members of the ruling cabinet on Monday.


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As part of the shift, County Hall is to assess each of its 26 care homes to see if they should be shut, refurbished or redeveloped.

The strategy follows a survey of more than 900 users which showed 85pc would choose housing with care, while 49.2pc felt existing stan-dards were not acceptable.

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Jonathan Dunning, branch secretary of Norfolk Unison, said he was worried the Tory-run council was seeking to dust down plans by the previous Labour/Lib Dem administration to put the homes up for sale.

And he feared the results of the survey were being skewed to pave the way for backdoor privatisation.

“They asked the most stupid questions,” he said. “Our concern is that they will use this overwhelming mandate to improve services to say what's being provided isn't acceptable and the easiest thing to do is close them or privatise them.

“It has become a live issue and we are meant to be having a meeting with the director of adult social services,” he added. “Nobody would deny these kinds of services are what people want, but it has got to be done in a sensitive way and it looks as if we are going down the same path.”

Chris Mowle, cabinet member for adult social care, accused the union of scaremongering.

“I feel their recent stance is putting a fear into staff that shouldn't be there in any shape or form,” he said. “The whole objective behind this is to move towards housing with care. Yes, we may have to close 26 residential care homes to open 20 housing with care, but my number one objective is to make our care homes fit for the future.”

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