Care home row could mean residents move

PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 July 2011

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HUNDREDS of elderly residents would be forced to move out of their homes if North Somerset Council loses a multi-million pound funding dispute with district care providers, it has been claimed.

More than a dozen care homes are involved in the disagreement over resident fees with the unitary authority, claiming they are not receiving enough money to cover costs.

The high profile dispute has been running for two years and, after many failed talks between the two parties, is likely to be decided at an arbitration hearing in September.

In a letter sent to every member of North Somerset Council, one care home owner has claimed the council will pull all its residents out of the 13 homes involved if it loses the fight.

In the message from Lyndhurst Park Nursing Home owner Gordon Butcher, which calls for last minute talks, he said the authority could be forced to pay up to £16.4million a year more for residential care if it lost.

He said: “We have been reading a document submitted by the council’s lead officer who clearly stated his belief that if the arbitrator decides in favour of the homes, the authority would have no option but to consider moving those council-funded residents.

“Potentially, somewhere between about 180 and 400 residents would be relocated.

“Not only is the process of relocating frail, elderly people one fraught with risks to their health and well-being, it is also traumatic for them to find themselves shunted about.”

The alliance of homes wants a 12 per cent rise in funding, but say they would be keen to get to the negotiation table again to avoid the arbitration hearing’s high legal costs and risks.

It comes after the group refused an initial offer from North Somerset Council for 3.6 per cent for two star homes and 4.36 per cent for three star homes.

A council spokesman said: “This issue is subject to a long-standing legal dispute that awaits a legal conclusion later this year following an arbitration hearing.

“We would point out, however, that our offer was the highest local authority award in the South West, and its current fee rates significantly exceed those paid by our neighbouring authorities.”

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