Council bosses have praised the work of care home staff in reducing the number of people needing to leave the area for care.
Hartlepool Borough Council’s adult and community based services committee said the opening of two new care homes in recent years has given a ‘greater number of places’ and diversity for homes.
This includes the opening of Rossmere Park Care Centre in May 2017 and De Bruce Court in February 2018, taking the total number of care homes for the elderly in the area to 16.
Jill Harrison, director of adult and community based services, said there are currently around 70 vacancies for people in care homes and anybody who leaves the area for care is doing so by choice.
She said: “Thankfully things have moved on significantly and a number of care homes opened and some significant improvements made.
“The position is much more positive than a couple of years ago.
“We’ve done a huge amount to support the homes and achieve improvements.
“Anyone who leaves the area is doing so by choice, such as to be closer to family. Nobody has to go out of the area and there is more availability for the locals.”
In 2017/18 there were 26 out of borough placements for elderly people, compared to 51 the previous year.
Councillors also praised improvements made in the services on offer, but warned things could change in the coming years.
Coun Carl Richardson said: “Things have improved considerably, things a few years ago were horrendous, but they have improved.
“However our aging population is growing and it is whether we have enough homes going forward.”
Coun Stephen Thomas, chair of the committee, praised the work of staff in care homes.
He said: “From visits we have recently carried out around the care homes it has shown the diversity in the town.
“One thing that does come through is the commitment from staff to provide the best possible scheme of care.
“The job that care staff do is grossly under rewarded, it’s a big national issue, it’s not something we have control over locally but we are doing what we can.”
In total 10 of the 16 care homes in the area are rated ‘good’ and the other 6 rated ‘requires improvement’
Two homes previously rated ‘good’ dropped to the lower rating, but council chiefs said work is ongoing to improve the ratings.
Although care bosses said the current position is ‘positive’ they warned things could change quickly and more work will continue to be done.
Ms Harrison said: “We do have about 70 vacancies which is a really good position to be in.
“There’s always a degree of fragility, it just takes one care home to be closed.
“It’s a difficult balancing act, if there are too many vacancies it creates a raft of problems.”
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service