Council Interim Director and Care Home Closure Expert

08:14 Thursday 12th July 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Let’s speak to Terry Rich, who’s Director of Adult Social Care at Peterborough City Council. Remind us just why the Council is consulting on whether these care homes should close.
TERRY RICH: Ok. Very happy to do that Paul. First of all, let me just acknowledge that this is a really difficult situation. We certainly understand the anxiety that people will be feeling at this time. And before I go into the reasons, let me just say that me and my staff will be doing all that we can to work with the residents and their relatives to minimise the anxiety through this difficult consultation period. I just wanted to make that absolutely clear to start with. Can I though just talk about the reasons why I’d recommended to the Cabinet that they consult on closure.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. Yes please. Is it just to do with money?
TERRY RICH: It arises out of our review, our older people’s accommodation strategy, and the approach that the Council is taking to supporting more old people to maintain themselves in their own homes. And Peterborough’s been very successful at this over the years, with less older people needing to go into residential care.
PAUL STAINTON: Terry. Terry. The reason that .. I know you’ve got a script in front of you Terry, and I don’t mean to be rude …
TERRY RICH: No I haven’t got a script.
PAUL STAINTON: .. but I want to get to the nub of the problem this morning, because we totally didn’t yesterday, because it turned into an attack on me and this show. What I want to get to is it’s very difficult for these people that are in these homes to live at home. Most of these people are the most vulnerable, the most ill, and have got dementia and things like that. It’s very difficult for them to live at home. So can we get to the nub of the problem here. Are we saying that it’s very expensive to keep people in these care homes, and it would be cheaper to put them in private care homes? How much does it cost in relation to private care homes to keep these people in Council run care homes? Is it cheaper to move them into private homes, and is that why we’re doing this?
TERRY RICH: There is a difference in cost. I did want to though finish the answer to the question.
PAUL STAINTON: We’ll come back to that. I’ll come back to it. Honestly.
TERRY RICH: Let me finish the answer to the question that you asked me, which is why I recommended to the Cabinet that they should consult on closure in the homes. And that is about the success that we’re having in supporting more older people to remain in their own home. It is about the development of extra care housing which is a form of housing with care which is much more respectful of people’s dignity, much more the quality of care that we’re trying to provide, and also the fact that in Peterborough, there’s been a development of modern homes including homes with expertise in dementia, that are available for older people in the city who really do need residential care.
PAUL STAINTON: So what you’re saying is these people can be moved out of these homes successfully. They can either go and live at home, or they can go and live in these special houses. All of them will be catered for.
TERRY RICH: Absolutely the case. People .. of we move on to the people currently resident in Greenwood and Welland House, I would not suggest that people could move from Welland/Greenwood House back to independent living. What they will need will be reassessments, to see what is the best form of accommodation to meet their particular needs. And for many of them, it will be specialist dementia care. For some it may be moving on to nursing care. For some it may be that there option and their choice will be to move into extra care housing.
PAUL STAINTON: Did you personally go round these homes, and if so, what’s wrong with them? Why do they have to close?
TERRY RICH: I’ve been to the homes, and my impression was that in the main, in the main, the staff there are doing the very best that they can in the circumstances. The homes were built in another era Paul. They were built when we were replacing geriatric wards in hospitals. And at that point in time, they were models of what we should be doing.
PAUL STAINTON: But everybody’s happy. Everybody’s happy. The residents are happy. The staff are happy. Relatives are happy. They’re fine as they are. What other reasons is there? There’s no law that says you’ve got to have a home in a certain way. It must be about money. How much are you going to save by closing these homes and seeking alternative provision for these people?
TERRY RICH: I think the figure that we’re quoting at the moment is that in a full year, it will cost somewhere around £1.75 million less to buy a better quality of care for the residents of Welland and Greenwood than it’s costing the Council now. Now that’s not insignificant, given the increases in the number of people that we’re needing to provide care for, and the reductions in the Council’s funding.
PAUL STAINTON: We appreciate that you’ve got to save money, but I just don’t know why you can’t be honest about it and say it’s about money.
TERRY RICH: Well Paul this isn’t the only reason. It has to be a consideration of how does Peterborough City Council use its resources most effectively to meet the needs that it’s facing. And as a professional social care person, what I’m intent on doing is giving the members the advice about the best way in which they can use those resources that will get the best outcomes for people. Now I appreciate that people who are living at Greenwood and Welland are being cared for well, and as I said the staff are making the best of the circumstances within which they’re working. But if you were to .. Paul, we can arrange for you to come with me to visit a modern home to see the sorts of standards that Peterborough’s elderly residents should be able to expect.
PAUL STAINTON: We’d love to do that.
TERRY RICH: And that’s the issue that we’re trying to get to. I appreciate it will be difficult. Change is always difficult. And my staff, professional social work staff, will be available, working with those residents, with their relatives, to try to minimise, it won’t be able to remove it entirely, but to try to minimise the effect the anxieties that go through this process. Now Paul the other thing I must say that there was an impression given yesterday that home closures lead to people dying soon afterwards.
PAUL STAINTON: Well that’s what people say.
TERRY RICH: Now the evidence really does not show that ..
PAUL STAINTON: Not our thoughts. That’s what people were telling us.
TERRY RICH: No I appreciate that. I’m not saying you said it Paul, I’m saying that’s ..
PAUL STAINTON: It’s just there’s been various accusations about this show in the last few days. I want to get everything clear.
TERRY RICH: Absolutely. That’s why I wanted to raise it. Because many years ago there were stories of poorly managed closures, where there was evidence that that was the case. There has been a huge amount of work around how is the best way to manage these very sensitive change processes. And I’ve known of many instances where people have thrived when they’ve moved on.
PAUL STAINTON: Can I ask you a question?
TERRY RICH: For example benefit, people suffering from dementia … sorry, if I can just ..
PAUL STAINTON: Carry on. Finish.
TERRY RICH: People suffering from dementia often need good quality environment. They need space where they can wander freely in safety. They need a design of buildings which minimises the anxiety. Now staff in our homes are doing the very best that they can in the circumstances. But in my professional view, there is a much better environment that could be provided for people with dementia, and for care home staff to work within.
PAUL STAINTON: Ok. Well I take on board everything you’ve said, and I understand the pressures, the financial pressures. I think everybody does. And they’re just wondering whether we can save the money somewhere else. Because it is going to cost £1.6 million isn’t it, to make all these staff redundant. So the savings are not going to be there are they, in the first year anyway?
TERRY RICH: We put into the report our estimate at the moment of the maximum cost if all of the current staff were to be made redundant. Of course part of what we’ll be doing during the consultation that Cabinet’s agreed will be individual consultation with all of the members of staff, to look at what the options for them are.
PAUL STAINTON: It’s that word “consultation”.
TERRY RICH: And there may well be opportunities for redeployment, for existing staff to move into other care roles within the Council.
PAUL STAINTON: It’s that word “consultation” though Terry, isn’t it, that people are worried about? Because when you say consultation, a lot of people say, well it’s a done deal. And when they look at the fact that you’re only on a temporary contract, and others are on temporary contracts, they see you disappearing and everybody being farmed out to private care. Because you’ve done this before in other places, haven’t you, closed care homes down?
TERRY RICH: I’ve worked in a number of places where what I tried to do is to ensure that the resources available to the Council were spent to the very best effect, for the benefit . .
PAUL STAINTON: Is that a yes?
TERRY RICH: Yes I have .. I have had to advise members on closing homes, and modernising services.
PAUL STAINTON: How many times have you done that, in different places?
TERRY RICH: How many care homes ..
PAUL STAINTON: How many different authorities have you worked for where you’ve been and advised people to close care homes down?
TERRY RICH: Um. In three authorities. But that’s a part of modernising services and commissioning new and modern services which have improved the life of vulnerable people in those authorities. And in each of those authorities, the social care system has been stronger as a result of the difficult changes that members have decided to make.
PAUL STAINTON: Terry, thank you for coming on this morning. I think we’ve got a full picture now of exactly what is going on with the care home cloaures. Terry Rich Director of Adult Social Care at Peterborough City Council, for now. Because he is on a temporary contract.