The number of elderly people living in care homes outside of Hartlepool has fallen dramatically after reaching an all time high for recent years.
Last year, the Mail reported how Hartlepool residents being cared for out of town had rocketed more than ten-fold in three years.
A shortage of nursing beds following care home closures in town along with difficulty recruiting staff were said by officials to be major contributing causes.
But councillors heard how the number has dropped significantly, thanks partly to a new home opening in Hartlepool.
In 2016-17, there were 51 people aged over 65 placed in homes outside the borough compared to 15 the previous year.
As of December, there had been 18 placements.
Jeanette Willis, head of strategic commissioning – adult services, at Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “I’m pleased to report as of December this year that number was only 18.
“That number will include some people who choose to live out of borough. There are some people who choose to go and live in Stockton, or in Durham, or very far flung areas because of family connections.
“We can’t always associate people choosing not to live in Hartlepool as a negative, but actually from our figures that’s really, really positive.”
The opening of Rossmere Park Care Centre last March has helped to boost bed availability.
Ms Willis said the home, which was opened by the Mayor, Councillor Paul Beck, has integrated well into the local community.
It has 50 beds, including 20 for nursing care and 30 for residential or dementia placements.
Capacity is also set to be bolstered by a new De Bruce Care Home on Jones Road, at West View.
The 48-bed home was built around two years ago to provide brain rehabilitation services but the demand for such a service was not sufficient.
Instead, the operator Durham Careline has registered it for nursing and residential care.
The council’s Adult Services Committee also heard how there has been an improvement in the Care Quality Commission inspection ratings for Hartlepool’s care homes since last June.
Five homes are now rated as requiring improvement compared to seven previously.
Nine are rated as good and there are no homes in town rated inadequate.
Councillor Stephen Thomas, chair of the Adult Services Committee, said: “Three years ago we had four homes at the peak of the Four Winds situation who were rated as inadequate. We now have no homes whatsoever inadequate and the majority with a good rating.”