Hackney care homes in crisis following Covid, councillors warned

St Anne's Care Home. Picture: Sister Maria

St Anne’s Care Home at St Anne’s Convent on Manor Road, run by charity Little Sisters of the Poor, has suffered financially during Covid. - Credit: Archant

Councillors were warned this month about “great concern” over the fragility of the care market in Hackney following the Covid pandemic.

Members of the borough’s audit committee heard testimony from group director of adults, health and integration Helen Woodland, who said care providers on which the council has relied for the past year are facing greater financial pressure.

The issue is far from Hackney-specific, with a council report noting “national concern” around the sustainability of the market for providers, with an increasing number returning their contracts to local authorities and falling into administration.

She said: “For the older persons care market in particular, they have had increased costs around infection control, around PPE, around backfill of staffing because they will have had a number of staff who have had to self-isolate or have had Covid.

“For our care homes, one of the issues is, and there is no delicate way to describe this, that their void level is greater because people have passed away."

Fewer people in the care homes has led to lower profits and, as a council report details, risks around the “resilience and sustainability” of the social care provider market.

The Town Hall has a responsibility under the Care Act to maintain, as far as is possible, a stable market for care.

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It said it has passed on government grants to providers, with work continuing to support a healthy local system including the setting of “fair but affordable rates” for quality care.

Nevertheless, the council says “ongoing sustainability continues to pose a risk”, with the Woodland report noting expectations laid out by the government on future long-term funding for social care in 2017 have “not yet been forthcoming”.

The Town Hall also revealed concern the government has made “little mention” of working age people, who make up a large proportion of those supported by Hackney’s services.

She added that care homes, rather than home care, would be most at risk if providers went out of business as there are only four in Hackney.