Public-private proposals for The Dell

THE Dell old people's home at Beccles is among 16 in Suffolk which could become part of a public-private partnership in new proposals by Suffolk County Council.

THE Dell old people's home at Beccles is among 16 in Suffolk which could become part of a public-private partnership in new proposals by Suffolk County Council.

The county run facility which is home to 38 old people was established by the council many years ago - now it is included in a county council report looking at how to develop residential home care for older people in Suffolk.

Councillor Graham Newman will present a report to the cabinet meeting on Tuesday to authorise further detailed preparation for involving an independent partner to develop its 16 homes. Cabinet is asked to delay the search for a partner until a decision on the future organisation of local councils is clear.

The plan is to move on progressively from the current homes estate as part of an investment to meet future demand for care, as more people become older. The report proposes a future in which care is offered in a wide variety of settings, including very sheltered housing and specialist nursing services. The programme will cover the next 30 years.

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The council intends to set up a Public Private Partnership for which an outline business case is being prepared, and then to contract with the preferred bidder. A decision is also needed on whether to apply to the Government for Private Finance Initiative (PFI) funding. Work is continuing to develop a full public consultation on these plans.

If the cabinet agrees the report, the aim is to sign up with a partner in early 2010. The full financial case will be referred back to Cabinet for decision in November.

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Mr Newman said: “We know that more people will need specialist residential care in future and the council has already decided to use our homes as a basis to ensure that care will be there for them. If we sold the homes, we would have comparatively little influence in the market. Instead, we will bring in a partner to build on our excellent record in providing care for vulnerable older people in an affordable way.”

One key aim of the plan is to develop homes which have better facilities, and which can be sustained financially for the foreseeable future. The current 16 homes are relatively small and so expensive to run. In some instances, the range of care that can be offered is limited. If the council was to try to carry on running the homes as now, it is likely that they this would become unaffordable and some at least would have to be sold.

Currently county council homes have 538 beds, the council buys a further 2,085 beds currently for older people in independent residential and nursing homes. The Dell at Beccles comprises 38 beds.

Demand for all residential care for older people in Suffolk is projected to rise by 28pc in 10 years. The number of older people with dementia who will need residential care in Suffolk is predicted to rise by 62pc up to 2017, and by 125pc by 2029 - more than double the current numbers.

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