MAJOR changes to council run care homes for the elderly in Rhondda Cynon Taf have been approved.
Cabinet on Tuesday, February 28 agreed proposals to close three care homes and create extra care facilities and dementia beds and accommodation and care for adults with learning disabilities in their place as well as proposals to keep five current council care homes for the elderly open.
Cabinet considered feedback from the consultation into the plans which include closing Ystrad Fechan care home in Treorchy and working with Linc Cymru and the health board on developing land near it into accommodation with care facilities including 40 extra care apartments and 20 residential dementia care beds.
The report said that following a previous cabinet decision, Ystrad Fechan is currently temporarily closed and has no residents living there.
On this proposal, 53.1% of respondents agreed whereas 25.7% disagreed.
Another proposal is to develop land near the existing Ferndale House care home to provide new accommodation with care facilities including 25 extra care apartments and 15 residential dementia care beds and close Ferndale House residential care home when the new proposed alternative accommodation with care for older people is developed.
This is a change to the preferred option that was consulted on which included 20 extra care apartments and 10 residential dementia care beds with 46% agreeing with this and 29.5% disagreeing with this original option.
The council is also looking at working with Linc Cymru to explore options to develop land near the existing Troedyrhiw care home in Mountain Ash to provide new accommodation with care facilities including 25 extra care apartments and 15 residential dementia care beds and close the Troedyrhiw care home when the new proposed alternative accommodation with care for older people provision is developed.
In the consultation, 46.5% of respondents agreed with this and 30% disagreed with the option
The council will also develop Garth Olwg care home in Church Village to provide alternative accommodation with care facilities to support adults with learning disabilities and to close Garth Olwg care home when suitable alternative placements are found for existing residents in a home of their choice which meets their needs.
In response to this option, 50.5% of those who responded disagreed with the preferred option whereas 34.8% of respondents agreed with the report saying that the overwhelming message from older people and their families was that they wanted Garth Olwg care home to remain open.
The five homes which will be kept include Clydach Court in Trealaw, Pentre House in Pentre, Tegfan in Trecynon, Cae Glas in Hawthorn and Parc Newydd in Talbot Green,
On keeping these five homes open, 69.4% of those who responded to the consultation agreed with 21.9% disagreeing.
What officers said
The report said: “Officers consider that doing nothing is not a viable option.
“Without continuing to explore the potential for redesigning the way in which adult care is provided, it will not be possible to meet people’s changing expectations and increasing demand within the resources available.”
It said it is “imperative” that the council “continues to reduce reliance on traditional services such as residential care homes and moves to a model that is sustainable for the future, and effectively meets the needs of an ageing population with more complex needs, whilst focusing on preventative services, which promote choice, independence and wellbeing.”
It said that the council’s residential care homes are “clearly highly significant for the people who live in them” and that there is “mixed” support for cabinet’s preferred options for the future of the council’s residential care homes and to retain a level of residential care home provision.
It added: “The overwhelming message from older people and their families can be simply summarised as wanting all Council residential care homes to remain open. However, it has been possible to respond to all concerns raised during the consultation and put forward by way of appropriate mitigation.”
The report said officers consider that the recommendations put forward in this report “alongside the ongoing successful delivery of the council’s extra care strategy would lead to the development of a more sustainable model of residential services providing the best possible care and support.”
The views of the overview and scrutiny committee
Cabinet were also given feedback from an overview and scrutiny committee meeting which took place on Monday, February 27 which said that they acknowledged the strong public opposition to the Garth Olwg proposal but they recognised the case for change.
The committee has also said it was keen to see proposals to invest in all facilities coming to cabinet as soon as possible.
One member highlighted the focus on capacity rather than a better geographical spread and local access and reassurance was sought that the council is confident that there is resilience in the community to support people to live independently longer and a comment was made that the council should be mindful of the public perception of closing care homes when there is much discussion about bed blocking and patient flow.
The committee commented on the need for greater capacity for dementia care as part of the proposals and welcomed the enhancement of that and they saw plans for staff recruitment and retention to support the delivery of the proposals as key.
The views of cabinet members
At the cabinet meeting, council leader Councillor Gareth Caple, the council’s cabinet member for health and social care, said this report “provides a positive pathway to ensure dignity and respect in old age with modern, state of the art extra care homes including provision for more complex needs such as dementia as well as support for those people with learning disabilities in adulthood.”
He said he’s fully supportive of the proposals as doing nothing is “not a viable option” in order to meet ever changing expectations as well as ensuring that the council complies with its commitment to maintaining in house residential care homes.
He said: “These changes will undoubtedly enhance the health, well-being and independence of older people in a modern day setting” and that the seven week consultation was extremely positive and supportive.
He acknowledged the concern over the Garth Olwg proposal but said there are two extra care facilities, two council care homes and one independent sector care home within a five mile radius of it and said the proposal was unanimously supported by the voices of the people with learning difficulties.
He said they took note of residents’ and trade unions’ concerns that there was under provision of accommodation for the Rhondda Fach so they’ve increased the number of extra care apartments from 20 to 25 and residential and dementia beds from 10 to 15.
He said that the council’s current in house care homes no longer meet the standards expected for modern care homes and due to sustained reductions in demand leading to under occupancy, are no longer viable.
He said that these proposals alongside the council’s extra care strategy will lead to a more sustainable model of residential care services providing the best possible care and support for the older generation.
Councillor Maureen Webber, the deputy leader, said the increased capacity at Ferndale is positive and that they appreciate the anxiety change creates but that it would not be right to continue with the status quo adding that they need to adapt to the needs and demands of future generations.
Councillor Ann Crimmings said the consultation was well received in the main but she notes the negative comments about Garth Olwg but said they need to realise the multi million pound investment for accommodation with care for people with disabilities in adulthood to be supported.
The leader Councillor Andrew Morgan said Garth Olwg only has 50% occupancy and in all likelihood it’s not going to rise and there are vacancies in other homes so across the board they do have a significant number of vacant beds.
He said they need capacity and resilience in the system and they have to consider the longer term plan in their proposals for care.