Care home association hits out at accusations

AN ORGANISATION which represents 36 of Barnsley’s care homes has hit out at claims that it is withholding a wage rise for its workers.

According to the Barnsley Independent Care Home Association not only has it not been given the additional funds to make this payment but it is also having to deal with receiving the lowest payments in the area.

And it warns that putting pressure on homes to add more strain to already stretched budgets could lead to job losses and possible home closures.

The Association has been unsuccessfully trying to meet with Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council throughout this year, to discuss the payments the local authorities make to the homes to cover residents they place there.

Despite the organisation commissioning an independent accounting firm to assess the cost of care and highlight the amount needed to run the home, the council put forward their own figures – refusing to enter into any discussion and coming up with their own fee structure.

The amount paid by BMBC is substantially lower than every other surrounding council, with Wakefield, Leeds, Bradford and Doncaster all paying a far better rate.

The Association was shocked when the council put in place its Excellence In Care programme, which said that all care workers should receive £1 an hour extra from 1 April.
According to the Association this was announced without any consultation with them – and although the council did offer an uplift this was from the basic fee which was already in contention.

Now the organisation wants to put the record straight, after claims have been made that care homes have received the money but have not passed it on to staff.

“The truth of the matter is we have never received this money – we were expected to pay it out of a rate that BMBC has arbitrarily decided upon,” said a spokesman for BICHA.

“Whatever his intentions, the announcement made by council leader, Sir Stephen Houghton, about the additional money for care workers failed to grasp the reality of the situation – that the council is already the lowest fee payers in the region and putting an extra stress on the operators could seriously jeopardise the future of the industry.

“Our association and all our members are committed to provide exceptional care to all our residents and the best possible wages to all our valued employees but the fact remains that it is BMBC which is not recognising the actual cost of administering care and it is their lack of funding that has resulted in this situation.”

The Association is also concerned that even if they did accept the council’s decision, it could cause a huge divide in care homes.

“The council insists that only staff working as carers are eligible for this uplift, effectively undermining the work put in by the ancillary staff like domestics, cooks etc. who are vital cogs in the smooth running of a home and potentially disenfranchising them,” said the spokeman.

“These actions have left us dismayed. While we don’t doubt it was well meaning, it was a naïve and irresponsible announcement made without any real thoughts for the consequences.

“With the current situation some homes are operating literally on a shoestring, the additional financial burden could easily push them over the edge – what if this gesture actually puts people out of jobs?

“We have always wanted to engage with BMBC to be able to present the reality of the situation in the care homes and to work together to find a way forward – we just have never been given this opportunity.”