A social care leader says there’s an urgent need to build more new care homes in Wales to cater for the boom in the over 85 population.
But, according to Mario Kreft MBE, the chair of Care Forum Wales, the number of care homes is declining instead of going up, a situation he describes as “the perfect storm”.
Mr Kreft spoke out after a new report, A Place to Call Home: Impact & Analysis, by Older People’s Commissioner Sarah Rochira highlighted the lack of care home capacity in Wales.
It follows on from a recent Parliamentary Review which contained a similar concern.
In her report, Ms Rochira also claims the Welsh Government has failed to take the action it promised in a number of key areas to drive up the quality of life of older people living in care homes.
Mr Kreft said: “The message is loud, clear and very straightforward. We need to be building more care homes. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening and we are seeing care homes closing right across Wales because it is not financially viable to keep them open.
“Given the inescapable demographics of an ageing population, we are sitting on a social care timebomb.
“I think Sarah Rochira’s report is a real wake up call. It shows that we really do need to look at the leadership here in Wales of how we can actually develop a climate and culture where people want to invest and take the risk and actually build these much needed facilities.
“It is very, very clear that after two decades of people in local government particularly saying we don’t want new care homes, we’ve now had the Parliamentary Review and the Commissioner for Older People saying they’re desperately needed as we’re losing them faster than we’re building them.
“Just before Christmas we had, based on the Office of National Statistics, a report saying that the over 85s population in Wales is going to double in the next 15 – 18 years.
“We really have got to cherish and support what we have but it is also becoming clear that we need to have more new care home that are designed to meet the
“It is imperative that we create a climate to reverse the decline in the number of care homes and get people building them again. The sector is chronically underfunded so this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“The Parliamentary Review and the Commissioner both say we need more capacity and they also say we should better have integration with all parts of the sector including the independent sector.
“It’s very much what Care Forum Wales has been saying for many years is now being re-iterated by these two very important reports.
“Unless more care homes are built, a lot of these older people are going to end up in hospital where there’s no room for them anyway
“We need the leadership to take the difficult decisions about how in the future we’re going to have a sustainable health and social care system.
“It’s wonderful that people are living longer and living better. But for many, many people, there’ll be a period in their lives where, either an intensive package of care at home or, for some people, a care facility will be what’s going to be required.
“The Commissioner’s report underlines we need to move on from the DNA here in Wales that social care not provided by the State is inferior. We have to change that culture and embrace business.
“We welcome the Commissioner’s call for the full involvement of the independent provider base within Wales and recognition that it is not good enough for residents to be prioritised for action or innovation because they live in the small minority of local authority run care homes.
“As Sarah Rochira points out, there will always be a need for residential and nursing care, and the people who need this will have more complex health conditions and a greater need for care and support than ever before
“We’ve had the Welsh Government show that the care sector is not just a sector of national strategic importance but actually, a priority economic sector, so now what we’ve got to do is join the dots.
“We’ve got to look at what these very influential reports have said about capacity, about workforce planning, about sustainability and we’ve got to change the culture.
“We’ve got to celebrate the independent sector and encourage people to invest. It is not happening now because the sums do not add up and if we can’t have a vibrant care sector In Wales, the knock on effects for our services and indeed, for the people of Wales are going to be very, very serious indeed.”