Speeches to Full Council 17/09/15: Suffolk Care Homes Motion

Care Homes Motion:

“This Council calls on the administration to end its practice of placing elderly people in care homes that have already been rated as “Inadequate”, until such time as they have been regraded and there is sufficient evidence to prove that their action plan is sustainable and already delivering quantifiable improvement. We also call on the administration to demonstrate how they are ensuring that current residents already placed in care homes identified as “Inadequate” are properly safeguarded.”

Motion proposed by Sarah Adams; seconded by Sandy Martin.

Sarah Adams’ Speech to Council:

“For all of our elderly and vulnerable people who have frequently given their all working in Suffolk, I commend the motion to you and look to each and every County Councillor to do the decent thing and vote in favour.

We demand 100% commitment to end the practice of placing elderly vulnerable people in to Care Homes rated inadequate until the CQC have confirmed standards have improved with a higher rating.

We have identified 5 people have been placed in to homes deemed inadequate this year – how many more are there that we don’t know about? How many families have placed loved ones in to inadequate care because there is no other option?

What measures and guarantees will the administration give to this chamber that no-one under Council care will be placed anywhere rated below ‘Good’ by the CQC?

What actions will the administration take to ensure standards in homes across Suffolk are driven up? It’s simply not good enough to keep replacing care home managers, whilst staff are untrained and poorly paid.

Will SCC make a commitment to the people of Suffolk that all care homes will be rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ within a certain timeframe – say 18 months?

One prominent example is Thurleston Care Home, which still requires improvement after 3 years. A resident who lived there over 3 years ago, subsequently died, partially as a result of the poor care received there. The ombudsman found that the Council had failed in its duty of care and failed to investigate adequately, including the failure to interview a MacMillan nurse involved in that elderly person’s care.

Suffolk County Council has finally issued the apology due to the family and we demand on behalf of the family and the people of Suffolk that a Serious Case Review  is undertaken.

So, our demands can be summed up as follows:

  1. No placing of elderly vulnerable people in any Care Home with a rating lower than ‘Good’.
  2. Commitment to a time frame by which all homes will rated as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’
  3. Serious Case Review into what happened in Thurleston Lodge 3 years ago

It really gives me no pleasure in citing CareUK whose 4th home on opening was again found by CQC to be failing.

If you look at their website, where they quote from families in 2013 – this was well before this particular care home opened. It’s for a different building, for different staff under a different regime. It’s dishonest and misleading. Yet again, it is letting people down.

What is Suffolk County Council doing to ensure that this doesn’t happen? How can the people of Suffolk believe what they say? What confidence can anyone have that they or their elderly relatives are safe in the hands of Suffolk County Council?

How is the administration going to guarantee the safety of vulnerable people?

Shame on Suffolk County Council; shame on us all for failing to deal with this problem”

Sandy Martin’s Speech to Council:

“Over the coming few years, the cost pressures on Adult Social Care will be impossible to deal with without a serious reduction in service, unless the government has a sudden and fundamental change of heart, suddenly starts believing in public services, suddenly starts funding us to deliver them properly, or suddenly changes its view of Council taxes and finds a way to enable us to raise the money to deliver our services properly.  I think we all know that isn’t going to happen.

So what is going to happen?  Already, those working on the frontline in Adult Social Care are amongst the most underpaid working people in our Country.  Small private Residential Homes, however little they may pay their staff, are struggling to balance their books because of the low rate of remuneration they can receive from this authority.

7 Care homes in this County are rated as Inadequate and 33 are rated as “Requires Improvement”.  Most of these are small private homes.  I have absolutely no doubt that some of these will close in the course of the coming year – every so often for years, Residential homes have closed because the investment has not been in place to employ and train enough staff or to make the home physically safe.  Clearly, we hope that most of those that are assessed as “Requires Improvement” will actually improve – but once they have been assessed as Inadequate, it really is not acceptable to continue to allocate places in those homes unless and until they have made the urgent changes needed in order to offer a safe and healthy environment for the residents.

Suffolk people do not want their elderly relatives to be put into an unsafe home.  I think they would be absolutely outraged if they knew that this Council was deliberately placing their elderly relatives into an environment where – and I quote the CQC – there are widespread and significant shortfalls across the five key characteristics – safe from bullying and avoidable harm; compassionate and caring staff; care that responds to the resident’s needs; staff that are competent and qualified; and managed effectively so that families can be sure these standards will be adhered to.

Time and time again, we are being approached by distressed relatives about the treatment their vulnerable family members have suffered. It would be shameful for us all at Suffolk County Council fi we allow the poor treatment of Suffolk’s most vulnerable elderly people to continue; we must come together as a Council – regardless of party lines – to do something about it.

Since last December 5 residents have been placed by this authority into homes that have already been rated as Inadequate by the CQC.  The financial consequences of carrying this motion are perfectly affordable at this stage.  But the consequences of NOT passing this motion are very grave indeed.  Already we have had homes closed under the cloud of having possibly caused the death of one or more residents in their charge.  If we are not absolutely firm about drawing a line here, the cost pressures will lead to more and more residents being placed into Inadequate homes, and the trust of Suffolk people in this authority to look after the interests of their elderly residents will be irreparably damaged.”

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