Government Grants for Homes

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					                    NEWS RELEASE FROM

                                                              Issued 30th January 2007

Government grants totalling just under £68 million to help nursing and residential
care homes make minor improvements to their facilities that will benefit patients have
been welcomed by the Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA).

But the association is challenging the wisdom of channelling all the funds through
local authorities and has expressed serious concern at government guidance which
says that the grants “should not unreasonably favour homes owned by councils

This, the RNHA believes, offers cash-strapped local authorities a ‘get out’ clause that
will enable them to divert the much-needed new funds away from independent and
voluntary sector care homes.

Commented RNHA chief executive Frank Ursell: “When the minister for care
services first announced the grant scheme last November, we welcomed the fact that
he was injecting additional resources into the care of older people. We did not
anticipate that the scheme would be skewed in favour of councils spending the cash
on their own facilities, especially since they operate many fewer care homes than the
independent and voluntary sectors.”

He added: “We shall be encouraging care homes throughout the country to make early
contact with their local authority in order to find out how much of the government
grant will be made available to the independent and voluntary sectors and how much
is being siphoned off by the authority itself. Wherever we suspect that the resources
are being distributed unfairly, we shall complain to the minister and support a local
campaign to get something done about it.”

The one-off capital grants being offered by the Department of Health are intended for
improvements such as upgrading dining rooms and bathrooms, redecorating
bedrooms, enhancing privacy and providing information technology that enables care
home residents to access the internet.

A total of £67.7 million is being allocated to 150 local authorities in England. Each
authority will receive a sum that represents its proportion of the number of people
aged 65 and over who, across the whole of the country, receive council funding
support for their care.

All councils have until 28th March 2007 to submit proposals to the Department of
Health on how they intend to spend the money.

Whilst advice issued by the Department of Health is that the money should be used to
benefit the maximum number of care home residents, the RNHA fears that many
councils may be tempted to take advantage of the open invitation they have had to
favour their own care homes.

Said Mr Ursell: “We hope that this will not prove to be a scheme that sounded like a
very good idea at the outset and proves to be rather different in practice from what
was originally expected.

“We are also concerned about the timetable proposed. It is not long enough for
councils to consult properly, notify all care homes, receive well thought through
applications and make decisions on their relative merits.”

Feedback received by the RNHA suggests that, with only about eight weeks left
before the Department of Health’s deadline for the receipt of proposals, many nursing
homes around the country have not yet even been contacted by their councils about
the scheme.


Notes to editors:

1. Final arrangements for the administration of capital grants for improvement of the
care home environment for older people were issued in a Department of Health
circular LAC (2006) 16 on 20th December 2006.

2. The Registered Nursing Home Association represents around 1,200 nursing

For further information and comment please contact:
Frank Ursell, Chief Executive Officer, Registered Nursing Home Association
Tel: 0121-451 1088 or 07785 227000

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