CALLS have been made for Wrexham Council to look at taking care homes back into its responsibility in light of the closure of Trewythen Hall.
A struggle to recruit staff led to the recent closure of the 28-room privately-run Gresford-based care home, something which troubled members of Wrexham Council’s Safeguarding, Communities and Wellbeing scrutiny committee when it met this week.
After an update on care home commission for older people in Wrexham, Acton and Maesydre Cllr Becca Martin (Plaid) asked about day care and respite provision, also suggesting bringing care homes back in-house.
“Is this an opportunity for us now as a council to take ownership of these care homes and bring it back in-house if we get funding from Welsh Government?”, she said.
“You’ve got a massive shortage of beds at the Maelor (hospital), and we need these places to ‘step down’ from which could alleviate the health crisis just that little bit in Wrexham.”
Wynnstay Cllr Malcom King (Lab) echoed the calls for more respite care adding that it is cheaper and better for patients’ wellbeing not to be kept in hospital for longer than necessary, backing the call for more public sector involvement in care homes.
While he felt it would be difficult for the council to take full ownership of care homes he said he had no problem with privately operated care homes, adding that there were some that “produced fabulous services” but that public sector involvement, producing a ‘third sector’ where the council and private ownership worked together, could be a way forward.
“For lots of councils in the north of England the predominant provider for care homes has been the third sector, co-ops of one sort or another, and they have worked closely with the local authority”, Cllr King said.
“But that doesn’t come about by accident, you actually have to make a policy decision to adjust the market, to provide incentives and support.
“I don’t think it would be feasible to take care homes back into the local authority, certainly on a long-term basis and I don’t think we would have any less problems in staffing them than they probably had.
“How do we get away from this over-reliance we’ve had on the private sector? We’ve got ourselves into a situation which isn’t right, giving people no choice in Wrexham.”
The council’s chief officer for Social Services, Alwyn Jones said day care is available at Deva House in Caia Park, and the Penley Rainbow Centre, but the costly alterations needed to meet modern building standards for care homes would be a stumbling block to the council becoming a provider.
“That’s not a simple thing to do”, he said.
“If we did choose to do that, in each instance we would then have to re-register those care homes and some of them may not be in a position as a new provider to meet registration standards at this time.
“In terms of some of the ones that have closed, I’m not sure they would meet current registration standards for new care homes which is what they would have to do if we became a provider.”
Mr Jones added that the council is seeking to potentially introduce third-sector involvement into the market, and work is taking place to look at that.
Whitegate Cllr Brian Cameron (Lab) lamented the loss of respite facilities in previous years and said the council should be looking at all options for future care provision.
He said: “A lot of the day care problems the council has brought on itself by closing Nant Silyn and the day care facility on Prince Charles Road which between them would probably have taken in 70 to 80 people.
“I’m just concerned that we’re not taking everything into consideration. It’s important we do have contingency plans, as things are looking, it’s going to get much worse.
“Day care did cover respite, and we should be looking at ways to improve the situation we’ve got now.”