Is Rhondda Cynon Taf Council systematically closing all its care homes?
The preferred option put forward to modernise residential care services
Major proposals to invest and modernise in residential care services will soon be considered – including three new facilities offering Extra Care and residential dementia care, a fourth new accommodation for adults with learning disabilities, and the retention of five Council care homes.
Modernising and improving adult care provision is a key Council priority, in response to an ageing population, lower demand for ‘traditional’ care homes and changing expectations of the service.
A Council commitment to modernise residential care options for older people was approved in 2016, while a £50m investment plan to provide 300 Extra Care beds in Rhondda Cynon Taf was agreed in 2017. Two successful new facilities have been created in Aberaman and Graig, alongside Linc Cymru, delivering 100 new beds.
New proposals have now been brought forward, to be considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, November 29, and Cabinet on Monday, December 5.
A preferred option focuses on preventative services, choice, independence, well-being and future needs. It would increase options for people who need accommodation and care, and offer a viable alternative for those able to remain independent with support. The proposals include:
- Retaining the current service provision at five current Council care homes – Clydach Court in Trealaw, Pentre House, Tegfan in Trecynon, Cae Glas in Hawthorn and Parc Newydd in Talbot Green.
- Providing a new accommodation with 40 Extra Care apartments and 20 residential dementia beds in Treorchy – this development would be explored with Linc Cymru and the health board. It would be located on land near Ystrad Fechan Care Home. The care home is temporarily closed with no residents, and would be permanently decommissioned.
- Providing a new accommodation with 20 Extra Care apartments and 10 residential dementia beds in Ferndale – this development would be explored with Linc Cymru. It would be located on land near the existing Ferndale House Care Home. The care home would be decommissioned when the new facility is developed.
- Providing a new accommodation with 25 Extra Care apartments and 15 residential dementia beds in Mountain Ash – this development would be explored with Linc Cymru. It would be located on land near the existing Troedyrhiw Care Home. The home would be decommissioned when the new facility is developed.
- Remodelled accommodation to provide care for people with learning disabilities in adulthood, in Church Village – this would be achieved by redeveloping Garth Olwg Care Home. The care home would be decommissioned when suitable placements are found for its residents, in a home of their choice which meets their assessed needs.
A further report would then be compiled for Cabinet’s future consideration, outlining the feedback received in the consultation and the outcome of an Equality Impact Assessment.
Councillor Gareth Caple, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said: “The Council has a duty to ensure there are a sufficient number of quality residential care options to meet the needs of older people, and to achieve this we must continually review our offer and respond to changing needs and expectations. We have previously committed to modernising our residential care provision, and already delivered two state-of-the-art Extra Care schemes which are much-loved in Aberaman and Graig.
“The current nine Council care homes offer a very good quality of care from dedicated staff, but the majority of the buildings were built more than 40 years ago and not designed to meet current needs. New facilities such as Extra Care are built to be dementia-friendly with larger spaces to support mobility, as well as en-suite facilities, which many of our current homes do not have.
“There has also been a significant increase in surplus beds at our care homes – with 184 vacancies in comparison to just eight in 2016. This is a national trend, exacerbated by the pandemic and only expected to continue. There is now a far greater demand for nursing and specialist placements, as well as domiciliary care for people who wish to live in their own homes. It’s clear that doing nothing in response to all of these factors is not an option, and officers have therefore brought forward a preferred option for Cabinet’s consideration.
“This includes retaining five of our valued care homes, providing three Extra Care facilities with dedicated residential dementia beds in Treorchy, Ferndale and Mountain Ash, and a new accommodation in Church Village for people with learning disabilities in adulthood. The Council would remain in the care home market, while there would be more choice for residents who can live independently with support, and for those who require a specialist provision.
“If a consultation is agreed by Cabinet, the Council will support individual care home residents and their families to understand the potential implications for them, and to engage with the process. Staff members would also be at the heart of the conversation, to share their experiences and views on what is proposed. The Council will very much be in ‘listening mode’, and will consider all of the feedback received before making any final decision in the future.”
The Council runs nine residential care homes offering 267 beds, making it one of the largest Local Authority providers in Wales. It has had an increasing surplus of beds over many years – with 184 beds vacant as of November 2022, rising from just eight vacant beds in 2016. All care homes across the Council and independent sector in Rhondda Cynon Taf have fewer than 85% of their beds occupied. Overall, the Council has 58% of its residential care beds occupied, and a third of its care homes have at least one in two beds empty.
In July 2022, Ystrad Fechan Care Home was temporarily closed, and 10 new beds were provided at Parc Newydd Care Home, in order to support hospital discharge. The changes were in response to occupancy rates and immediate pressures, ensuring quality support and care could be accessed. As a direct result, occupancy levels at other Council care homes increased as the affected residents were supported to access a suitable alternative provision.
If the preferred option is agreed by Cabinet, this will see over £60 million of investment in residential care facilities.