A leading trade union is calling on Hartlepool council to rethink its strategy around providing care for the elderly following the announcement another town home is to close.
Unison, which represents workers who provide public services, says failures by private providers show there is a need for greater local authority involvement.
The union spoke out after the recent announcement that Manor Park care home in Greenock Road is to close with 32 residents having to find somewhere else to live and putting 53 jobs at risk.
It is after it received an inadequate rating – the lowest possible – in its last inspection by the Care Quality Commission.
Mike Hill, regional organiser for Unison said: “Hartlepool council is best placed to learn from the experience of having sole provision of residential care for the elderly run by the private or third party sector, having contracted out these services a long time ago.
“The landscape of elderly care is changing, especially around dementia and respite care, placing different demands on local authority, NHS, and public health funding.
“Residential care needs to be fit for purpose in the 21st Century in order to accommodate these changing demands and while there are some excellent private sector providers and residential initiatives in the town there is definitely a need for the council to rethink its strategy especially in light of the fact that after every closure the onus is always on them to ensure the elderly and vulnerable are looked after properly.”
Hartlepool council is currently reviewing its strategy for elderly and domiciliary care.
Councillor Stephen Thomas, chair of Hartlepool council’s Adult Services Committee, said they shared Unison’s concerns adding: “Work is at an early stage and whilst we face some serious challenges – not least the Council’s own difficult financial situation due to on-going Government cuts – we remain fully committed to ensuring that the highest possible level of care is provided to all vulnerable adults.
“Despite recent care home closures in the town, it is important to acknowledge that there is still some excellent care provision in the town.
“We aim to build on this by working with health commissioners to explore the options for developing new, innovative models of high-quality integrated health and social care services.”
He added the council also wants to ensure staff receive maximum protection regarding their terms and conditions and wages.