A CARE home owner is calling for an urgent independent inquiry into the ‘fantasy economics’ of the way Conwy Council funds social care.
Clive Nadin, who runs the 29-bed Abbey Dale care home in Colwyn Bay, spoke out after discovering the authority gives a council-run care home £400 a week more per resident than the rate for providers like him.
According to Mr Nadin, Conwy County Council is like a ‘bottomless pit, subsidised by taxpayers’ money’ when it comes to their own home, Llyn Elian, which is also in Colwyn Bay.
Mr Nadin says that in contrast the independent sector is struggling badly because the fees paid by the council are unrealistically low and fall well short of meeting the true cost of providing care.
He says he is aware of two other private care homes in Conwy that are teetering on the brink financially and are expected to close in the near future.
The funding crisis has also been flagged up by Care Forum Wales who say there is an ever-widening north-south divide, with fees in South Wales generally much higher.
In some instances, the difference can be as much as £10,000 a year per resident for providing the same level of care.
Four care homes in North Wales – Trewythen Hall in Gresford, Bay Court in Kinmel Bay, Gwastad Hall in Cefn y Bedd, and Morfa Newydd in Greenfield – have already had to shut with the loss of more than 160 beds, piling even more pressure on the social care system and NHS.
Mr Nadin was particularly critical of a letter he received from Cllr Penny Andow, Conwy’s cabinet member for Integrated Adult and Community Services, after he raised the issue with the authority.
He said: “Cllr Andow’s response to me was laughable. It would be funny if it wasn’t such a serious matter.
“Anybody with just a little bit of accounting knowledge would realise that her letter was a load of baloney. It doesn’t stand up to any kind of scrutiny, and it’s insulting to people’s intelligence.
“The council is just riding roughshod over providers, and something has to give. We can’t carry on like this.
“Essentially, Llys Elian gets £400 more per resident, per week than independent providers like myself.
“They don’t have to work to a particular fee. They are subsidised by the council if they need more money. They get it from a seemingly bottomless pit.
“A few years ago they had an inspection report which said they needed to increase staffing which they did overnight by increasing the funding by £250,000 a year for three years out of taxpayers’ money – so £750,000 extra went in there just like that.
“In contrast, a private provider can’t just ring the council and ask for an extra three-quarters of a million pounds.
“The fee independent providers receive has to cover absolutely everything, but Llys Elian can tap into different pots of funding for ancillary elements like payroll costs, waste, maintenance, or contingency funds for repairs.
“It’s an absolute scandal. I’m also a Conwy taxpayer, and they should be called to account, and we need an independent inquiry as a matter of urgency.
“They clearly know the true cost of providing care, which is far in excess of what they’re providing to the independent sector. What’s happening at Llys Elian is evidence of that.
“It’s a two-tier system. One for them and one for everybody else. Time and time again over the past 10 years, their fee calculations are unfit for purpose based on fantasy-land economics.”
Cllr Penny Andow, Conwy’s cabinet member for integrated adult and community services, said: “There are nationwide challenges in the sector, and we have been working with other local authorities across Wales to address this with Welsh Government. This situation has not just presented itself and has been evolving over the last 15 years.
“Llys Elian is Conwy County Borough Council’s only care home; it is a centre of excellence for dementia care providing long-term and short-term care, as well as a day centre service, for older people with dementia and dementia related conditions.
“Conwy County Borough Council continues on-going dialogue with Mr Nadin regarding Llys Elian and has been open with him and others in relation to costs. We also met with Mr Nadin last week and two other Care Providers, to discuss these matters.”
She added: “We recognise the pressures on private sector care homes and have requested information from care homes about their running costs, profit margins, and financial challenges, to better inform the publicly funded care fees that the council pays to private care homes.”