The following frequently asked questions follow the announcement last week that Brushwood and Millvina House care homes will close due to the economic impact of Covid-19:
Why are the homes closing when they only opened last year?
When the homes opened last year the effects of Covid-19 on the whole care sector could not have been anticipated. One of the pandemic’s impacts has been that families are not choosing residential care for their loved ones which has a financial impact on services which has resulted in significant and unsustainable losses for providers across the sector.
I thought these were council homes. Doesn’t the council decide if they close?
The council owns the buildings and rents them to Shaw Healthcare, an independent care provider.
Could the council take over the running of the homes from Shaw Healthcare?
Liverpool City Council does not have the experience of running the type of complex specialist nursing care provided at the homes.
Families have become reluctant to place their loved ones in care homes, so it is likely that the vacancy rate will remain, and the homes will struggle to return to levels which make them financially viable for some time.
Will the council explore whether another provider can take over running the two homes?
The council has had conversations with nursing home providers, but the issues facing the existing provider would also be faced by any other provider. The council will of course speak to any specialist provider, but we don’t underestimate the challenges involved. Shaw Healthcare is a specialist provider, and has not been able to make these homes viable in the current climate, which will be just as difficult for a new provider.
Would it not be possible to keep the homes operating until the pandemic ends?
Shaw Healthcare has indicated that it would not be possible. If a vaccine is developed it will not be for many months, and it is unlikely to be rolled out across the whole population until late 2021 at the earliest. Even then, the impact of Covid is likely to be felt in the care sector for a long time, so the issues that the council and providers are facing now will continue even if the pandemic was declared to have ended.
Couldn’t the council agree to pay additional funding to the homes?
Unfortunately, there is no additional funding to do this. The council is having to make substantial savings to its budget in coming years, both because of the underfunding of local government and social care and because of a £23m financial gap caused by Covid-19.
Also, the council must treat all providers of the same types of service fairly. For example, the council pays set fees for residents with different levels of care and it pays the same rates to all of the care homes in the city. We would not be able to favour one provider with extra funding.
I’ve heard that Millvina House and Brushwood receive calls from interested new residents all the time?
The two homes provide specific types of care and some of the requests received fall outside of this of specification
The calls that the homes receive are from the council brokerage teams looking to place people with specific care requirements. Shaw Healthcare and Liverpool City Council have an agreement on the levels of care that can be facilitated at the two services. If a person requires a greater level of care than can be provided in a home it would not be safe to accept them and would also be in breach of the agreement.
Why can’t the residents in one home be moved into the other so that only one home would need to be closed?
The homes are dependent on a mix of care beds in order to be viable. Putting the residents of the two homes together would not necessarily provide the right care levels.
What will the council do to support my family member?
The council has placed a team of social workers at both Brushwood and Millvina House and they will be working with residents and families to find new homes. All residents will be found a placement at another home.
Will we be able to visit other homes when choosing new accommodation for our family members due to Covid?
The council is currently talking to the care home sector about how families will be able to safely visit homes. The council will work with the alternative care homes to ensure that full PPE is provided to ensure that families can safely visit or arrange other measures such as video tours.
Is it true that the buildings are going to be converted into hotels?
No. The expectation is that the buildings will stay in the health and social care sector.