‘Outdated’ elderly people’s homes in North Yorkshire to be transformed into specialist care hubs amid severe staffing pressures
North Yorkshire County Council’s executive heard members welcome the Government’s recent introduction of new national patient discharge requirements on local authorities had seen more people discharged from hospital at a faster rate than before the pandemic.
However, the meeting was told it had exposed a clear and growing need for places to support people in the short-term, to either prevent admission to long-term health or care services or support people in returning home.
The move to transform elderly people’s homes into community hubs, offering a mix of support responsive to what is needed locally, comes a week after the authority revealed it was also facing “severe pressures” in staffing its service to enable people to return to their homes after hospital due to social care workforce shortages.
The authority’s adult services executive member Councillor Michael Harrison said the staff shortages meant some people who needed respite care would not get it, but using the council’s resources more smartly would ease some of the staff pressures.
He said the council wanted to redevelop some “outdated” elderly people’s homes as residents in need of care were now being offered homes at extra care facilities, where people live independently in a self-contained flats while getting meals and care provided where required.
The meeting heard such had been the success of the council’s extra care strategy it has been pursuing for 15 years both the Government and other councils had paid close attention to it.
However, much to the frustration of the council’s leadership it has proved difficult in creating extra care facilities in some areas, such as Bedale and Gargrave, due to the lack of suitable sites or service providers.
Nevertheless, Coun Harrison said the shift towards creating specialist and respite hubs would help provide services “which the market struggles to cover and at a better price than the authority would otherwise have to pay”.
The meeting heard a trial conversion of its Station View home in Harrogate into a respite and specialist care hub had led to the plan to extend the approach elsewhere in the county.
With new extra care schemes at Filey and Skipton due to open in the autumn, the executive approved transforming its homes for the elderly in the towns to offer long and short-term capacity for people living with dementia, as well as a range of short break, interim and rehabilitation beds.
An officers’ report to the meeting stated the proposal for those community hubs would save the council £485,000 annually.
Coun Harrison emphasised the shift in approach was not about making savings, but rather about ensuring services were available.
He said the council had a sufficient volume of facilitiies to be able to create a network of the community hubs without the need to buy any further properties.
Coun Harrison said: “We want to create hubs for the more complex cases, short-term care, respite care, rehabilitation and moving people out of hospital where they cannot immediately go home.
“North Yorkshire is certainly leading local authorities in doing it this way. Providing respite care isn’t new, but providing it as part of a flexible, community-based hub is ground-breaking.”