Adass’ Sarah Pickup rejects cuts claim in care home fees report

A leading adult care director has rejected as “conjecture” suggestions that the use of quality criteria to determine fees for care home operators is masking cost cuts for some providers.

Sarah Pickup (right), co-chair of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services resources network, made the comment after a report by market analysts Laing & Buisson revealed increasing numbers of councils were using quality criteria to determine fees.

While it said that fees had gone up by 3% in 2008-9, Laing & Buisson added that providers were concerned that this masked lower fee rises – or cuts – for care homes that had not met quality criteria.

The report said that the impact of quality criteria – such as the Commission for Social Care Inspection’s quality ratings scheme for English care providers – on fee rates was “not fully transparent”.

Laing & Buisson director William Laing said it was “likely” that the average increase in fees was less than 3% “but we don’t know that”.

Pickup said the report contained “no concrete evidence” of quality criteria being used to mask cuts. She added that while the situation may not be transparent nationally – because councils used different quality criteria – within each local authority “it will be clear who is getting what and why”.

Last month, the English Community Care Association claimed that many care home providers were receiving low or zero per cent increases in fees from councils, amid rising costs.

However, Pickup said that the 3% rise – at the lower end of Laing & Buisson’s estimate of care home inflation – “seemed quite reasonable”. She pointed out that in some areas fees had been historically high, so a sub-inflationary increase would be appropriate

But Laing said local authority baseline rates were too low to cover the costs of care.

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