Terry Rich – An Apology

08:08 Thursday 19th July 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: We’ve talked extensively this past week or so about this consultation on closing two care homes. Well, today, a new purpose-built care home should have been built in Peterborough a long-time ago. So says one Independent councillor in the city. The consultation on the possible closure of these two care homes has already begun, and the Independent Party in Peterborough are putting forward quite a few suggestions. Earlier councillor Charlie Swift suggested building a new home that would house residents of both Greenwood and Welland House. He told us there are plenty of sites around the city available to build on. (TAPE)
CHARLES SWIFT: The Wirrina site on the Embankment, which is established. You’ve got where B&Q and Matalan was, overlooking the river. These are all sites that we own, so there’s no debt charges on them whatsoever. And you’ve got what I said up at Maskew Avenue there. And you’ve got also the Bluebell land which is in the ward I represent, where the Development Corporation were going to build an old people’s complex there .. that we got for a quid, because I’d bought the railway land in front of it donkeys years ago when it was a ransom strip. I could build one tomorrow. And if I was the Leader of the Council, it would have been up and running now.(LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: Well Charlie went on to say the home should be called Jubilee House, to celebrate the Queen’s sixty years on the throne. The suggestion’s come after a heated exchange at Tuesday’s Health Scrutiny Meeting, where Executive Director of Adult Social Care Terry Rich was reminding staff of their duties during the consultation, and said, and I quote, “That means not setting up old lades on radio programmes in tears.” care workers then walked out of the Chamber. And yesterday John Toomey of the union Unison said he thought Mr Rich should consider his position.(TAPE)
JOHN TOOMEY: I don’t think anybody was prepared for what came out of his mouth unfortunately. They were so shocked. People turned, and they were looking at one another.
PAUL STAINTON: Should he apologise?
JOHN TOOMEY: I think he should go beyond that. Very senior position, in a local authority, on a very sensitive issue, he should seriously consider his position.(LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: Well we’ve got Terry Rich on the show this morning. And before we get to what John Toomey had to say, and what was or wasn’t said in that meeting, let’s find out more about the consultation, and see if we can get a few details. Morning Terry.
TERRY RICH: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: Now, the consultation officially underway, temporarily delayed because it’s worded as a consultation on closure, and that sort of intimates one thing, doesn’t it? And we wanted to talk about the future really of care homes, but that’s not possible.
TERRY RICH: Well I think it is possible to talk about the future of care for older people in the city. The importance of the word closure is because it is absolutely critical that the people directly affected are asked and are able to give their opinion on the implications of that closure. So to have not used the word closure in the consultation would have been negligent in my view in terms of our responsibilities to the people most directly affected. But the Cabinet and the Leader has made it quite clear that other proposals that come forward during the consultation will be considered. I’ve heard this morning Councillor Swift suggestions around building a care home, and I’m sure members will want to reconsider whether there is a need, or whether there are benefits of the City Council investing in a replacement home. The advice so far to members is that there is sufficient capacity within the city, and that the Council would not need to invest its funds in a new care home.
PAUL STAINTON: In the private sector.
TERRY RICH: Yes, in the independent sector there are plenty of good quality beds available. So the Council needs to make a judgement. In those circumstances, is it the best use of Council resources to build a home in a market where there’s already sufficient. But that’s a judgement they will make. And no doubt suggestions like Councillor Swift’s will lead to some re-examination of those issues.
PAUL STAINTON: The problem is two or three years ago, as Malc said this morning, Malc in Dogsthorpe who’s called in, two or three years ago we were promised a new care home. And that’s why so many people are up in arms he says.
TERRY RICH: I can understand that some people are looking back to things that were said in the past.
PAUL STAINTON: Well that’s why there’s a lack of trust now I think. And that’s what Malc is saying.
TERRY RICH: No, I appreciate that. But I think the point is that one’s always got to be looking at the evidence afresh, particularly in the light of the economic circumstances we’ve got, with reduced funding from Government. We need to make sure that we’re using the money that’s available for social care for Peterborough’s older people in the most effective w ay. Now the review of the strategy has shown that unlike two to three years ago, there is now sufficient capacity. Peterborough has closed previous homes, and that hasn’t led to a shortage. There is no waiting list for residential care. There are plenty of beds available. Now that doesn’t mean to say that the Council may not decide we’d like to build a new care home ourselves. The advice to them at this stage is that that isn’t needed in terms of the supply, and there may be other things that the Council would wish to invest that money in.
PAUL STAINTON: Is it true you’ve stopped taking new people into Greenwood House and Welland House? Is it true?
TERRY RICH: Welland and Greenwood haven’t been accepting permanent residents for some time now.
TERRY RICH: It’s not needed to really, because there’s people are choosing to go into the care spaces that are available.
PAUL STAINTON: Well they’re having to, if you’re not accepting them, aren’t they?
TERRY RICH: Well yes that’s true. But …
PAUL STAINTON: So you’re forcing them into private care.
TERRY RICH: We know that the facilities that are available in the independent sector are what people are generally choosing.
PAUL STAINTON: Well they have no .. they’re not choosing ere they? They’ve got no choice because they can’t put them in Greenwood and Welland is what you’re saying. You’ve stopped them allowing people in. So they’ve got to .. they’re not choosing they’re being forced to look into private care homes, aren’t they?
TERRY RICH: Well I don’t .. I don’t think the word forced is apt.
PAUL STAINTON: Well what’s their choice?
TERRY RICH: I think there are ..
PAUL STAINTON: You tell me what the choice is Terry?
TERRY RICH: There are many many care homes around the city, and those are the choices that people are exploring, day by day by day. And people are being .. for the people that do need residential care, they are being able to look around, to take their choices, to choose places which are near to them, places that meet their particular needs. And that hasn’t been an issue for us. Now ..
PAUL STAINTON: As long as it’s in the private sector. Well I think we’ve got the point there. Remind us then how the consultation is going to work if you would Terry.
TERRY RICH: Ok. Now the important part of the consultation, the most important part of the consultation I believe is the one to one discussions with residents and their relatives, around what the options might be for them, should the Council decide to proceed with closure. Now we have identified two experienced social care practitioners who will be working full-time on consultation with residents and their relatives. They’ll be based in the homes. They’ll be holding both surgeries where relatives can come to see them, but also pre-arranged appointments. And during that process, during those processes, there will be the opportunity to consider what other homes there are available, what the needs of their relative are. In some cases people will be coming forward and saying, well maybe this is the time to try to move my Mum nearer to where I’ve moved to. For others it will be a matter of I’d like to move but I’d like to move with a person that I’m very friendly with here. And looking for opportunities where a home of their choice has maybe two vacancies.
PAUL STAINTON: So you will consult residents like Clara Woods who we had on the show who was very upset and very worried.
TERRY RICH: Absolutely. I was in Greenwood House last night. I spent two hours with the staff, and I also went and had a very calm and measured conversation with Clara. Now I know Clara, and many residents .. let’s not talk personally about individuals, but I know that ..
PAUL STAINTON: I was using her as an example.
TERRY RICH: Sure. Exactly. And that’s the point I’m making Paul. I know that many .. many of the residents will be anxious, and would ideally not want that change. And the point that I was making at the Scrutiny Committee, and again talked with staff about last night, is our absolute responsibility as social care professionals to be minimising, understanding and minimising the anxiety for residents. And let me say Paul I was hugely reassured by the response I got from my staff last night.
PAUL STAINTON: You’re talking to them about redundancies already then.
TERRY RICH: Well the other part of consultation is this statutory consultation that we have to have with staff. Because when the Council is considering closures, that does immediately put the jobs of those staff at risk. And so we started the formal process of consultation with staff over their .. over their jobs.
PAUL STAINTON: You see they look at that and they think, well it’s going to close. They’re going to close anyway.
TERRY RICH: I don’t think that’s right. We have a statutory responsibility to begin that consultation and to look at the options. And certainly last night a number of staff were wanting to say, well, yes that’s right, we want to be able to talk about what it means for us, because we don’t want a long period of uncertainty. So those one-to-one interviews will start I think at the end of this week or during next week, which was the first stage of talking with the staff on the implications for them.
PAUL STAINTON: If they do close, what does it mean for respite care, and will the private care homes,. John’s called in. Will private care homes take day care patients? As there’s no money I doubt it.
TERRY RICH: One of the really interesting issues that’s coming out of the consultation so far is around the need for respite and daycare, particularly people with dementia. And what’s really emerging is that we will be needing to consider how we replace the respite and daycare capacity that’s currently .. for people with dementia currently.
PAUL STAINTON: How the Council replaces that.
TERRY RICH: How we commission that. Whether or not it’s directly provided by the Council or through an independent agency is a future matter.
PAUL STAINTON: So you’ve not really worked that out yet.
TERRY RICH: No the important thing during the consultation is determining what we actually need in terms of that day and respite for people with dementia.
PAUL STAINTON: But there will be something in place. That’s what I’m trying to get at Terry.
TERRY RICH: Absolutely.
PAUL STAINTON: There’ll be something in place. You won’t leave these people high and dry.
TERRY RICH: Absolutely. It’s absolutely critical. There is no proposal to reduce or stop providing respite or dementia care .. day care. I talked to some relatives of users of the day facility just the other evening. And they reminded me just how critical it is that respite and day care is available for people with dementia. Not just for the person receiving that care, but also for carers as well. Statistics that one of the councillors pointed out in terms of the evidence of an increase in early onset dementia, we need to be looking at what the City Council needs to be supporting people with dementia and their carers, and preventing them needing to go into residential care until it is absolutely necessary. And that’s one of the very positive things that’s already emerging out of this consultation Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: Do you value your staff?
TERRY RICH: Absolutely. That’s why I spent two hours with them last night. And I’ve got a further meeting with another group of them tonight. And we talked frankly about both our expectations of professional behaviour, and Paul I was able to talk to them about some specific instances which I’m not willing to talk about on the radio but specific instances ..
PAUL STAINTON: Well let me read you what you said at the Scrutiny Committee meeting the other night. Now .. this is what you said .. now some of the things around managing home closures successfully is the absolute commitment of the staff .. these are your words .. even if they’re own jobs are threatened, to make sure that they are minimising the anxiety for every resident in these homes. And that means not setting up old ladies on radio programmes in tears. Do you stand by those remarks?
TERRY RICH: I think it’s absolutely critical that we are behaving in a way which does recognise that people will be anxious, and that we have a duty to try to minimise that anxiety.
PAUL STAINTON: You’ve acused your staff of making old people cry. Do you stand by those remarks?
TERRY RICH: I haven’t accused. What I’ve done is highlight some of the issues and dangers. And during the meeting last night, I outlined in private where I think I need to as a manager, instances that ..
PAUL STAINTON: Yes but you did this in public Terry. This was in public wasn’t it? Do you feel you need to apologise to the people you’ve upset, the staff that you’ve upset?
TERRY RICH: Paul I’m more than happy to apologise to all of those staff who would not think of doing such things. And I spent a long time with them, both in the meeting and afterwards, talking one-to-one to staff, and explaining through why it is important that we maintain our professionalism.
PAUL STAINTON: Well I can tell you now Terry. Nobody set people up for us to film. Nobody set people up for us to make them cry. I can honestly say that 100%. We wouldn’t even put that to air if that was the case. So when you say you can apologise to all of the staff who wouldn’t dream of that, are you talking about every member of staff that works for you?
TERRY RICH: Paul I prefer to talk to the individuals concerned, rather than ..
PAUL STAINTON: I’m offering you the chance to apologise for those comments to all the members of staff. That’s what I’m offering now. Would you like to do that?
TERRY RICH: What I’ve done is I’ve said that I’m more than happy to apologise to the staff if the impression has been given that I think that that was their general view.
PAUL STAINTON: They’re words that you spoke. It’s not an impression.
TERRY RICH: Paul I think I’ve gone as far as I can with that. But I have spoken to staff last night and tonight. I’ve reiterated the things that I know have been said and happened which aren’t acceptable. And I’m pleased to say that all of the staff in the room understood what I was talking about, and wanted to reassure me of their professionalism. And I accept that entirely. I think they’re a dedicated group of staff, and together we will manage through a very difficult period of consultation with the best interests of the residents at the front.
PAUL STAINTON: John Toomey has called for you to consider your position. Are you?
TERRY RICH: No, I think that’s not a sensible suggestion. We have good relationships with our trade union colleagues, and I would have expected John rather to have reacted in that way, to have come and talk to me about the issues that I was concerned about. And obviously I’d be more than happy to talk to John about that. Because I think the trade unions have an important role to play. Because it is very difficult. There are a large number of staff, both union members and not union members, that will need the support of the trade union over this difficult time. So I’m sorry that John reacted in that way, and I’m more than happy to meet with him to talk about things.