Camden plan looks like strategy for elderly care on the cheap

Councillor Martin Davies wrote to thank people for contributing to the consultation on who should run Camden s care homes (H&H letters July 3). This is part of what, back in 2004, was part of the Elderly Persons long-term care strategy. On the surface, C

Councillor Martin Davies wrote to thank people for contributing to the consultation on who should run Camden's care homes (H&H letters July 3). This is part of what, back in 2004, was part of the Elderly Persons long-term care strategy.

On the surface, Camden appears to be going into a much improved caring regime. Nobody can argue that our sheltered housing and residential care homes need modernising. But is this part of an overall strategy or merely a further means of getting care on the cheap?

Since May 2006 the cost of community meals has gone up by 25 per cent. Home care, now means-tested, has been put up to £13.50 per hour, a price that many old people cannot afford. Luncheon clubs may be replaced by meals on wheels.

The plans are to sell off the four sites on which Camden's four care homes are sited and to provide two new care homes with 120 places. The question on whether these homes should be run directly by Camden or somebody else was consulted on earlier and the clear majority of respondents wanted this to be Camden.


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To quote the current consultation document itself: ''Nearly half of those respondents wanted management to remain with Camden.... and over one third supported another organisation''. Obviously the present administration did not like the answer.

The council's preferred option is that they would give the construction, maintenance and running of the homes to an outside firm on the basis that this would offer ''a similar service more efficiently and cost effectively'' as ''the private sector does not have the same level of overhead costs that the local authority has''.

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One suspects that this refers to wage levels and such things as training costs and pensions.

There is absolutely no documented evidence that handing over the construction and running of the homes to an external party would be more efficient and cost effective.

When I used the Freedom of Information Act to try to get more information the council hid behind the 'prejudicial to commercial interests' excuse.

What we do know is that the present Camden-run service is very highly independently-rated and valued by residents and carers alike.

We also know that the vast majority of cases where elderly abuse and appalling care conditions have been found, has been where homes have been run by organisations which are not local authorities.

I hope my understanding of this document is wrong as by the time the homes are built I may well be in need of a place in one of them!

Mick Farrant

Oak Village, NW5

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