Fears for Sheffield care homes’ future

Worried: Rita Brookes with her aunt Joyce Wilde, a resident at Woodland View.    PICTURE: SARAH WASHBOURN.
Worried: Rita Brookes with her aunt Joyce Wilde, a resident at Woodland View. PICTURE: SARAH WASHBOURN.
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TWO dementia care homes in Sheffield which were spared the axe following a campaign could be under threat again, it is feared – because of concerns over empty beds.

Birch Avenue, in Chapeltown, and Woodland View, in Norton, nearly shut in 2011 when NHS Sheffield proposed to withdraw funding, but were later given a reprieve.

Both homes were kept open on the condition they took on dementia patients only with ‘complex care needs’.

But a new council report has revealed there are currently vacancies at the centres, which have had fewer referrals – a ‘stark contrast’ to the situation two years ago, when the homes were full with waiting lists.

The document says the NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group will be reviewing occupancy rates and expects ‘remedial action’ will be needed.

Rita Brookes, whose 84-year-old aunt Joyce Wilde lives in Woodland View, said the vacancies were a ‘serious threat’ to the homes.

“Each bed costs £1,150 per week, so you can imagine how much money they’re losing. There must be people waiting to come in,” she said.

Rita also raised concerns about reviews of residents’ eligibility for funding, which she said could leave Sheffield Council ‘picking up the tab’.

The report will be discussed at a meeting of the Healthier Communities and Adult Social Care Committee today.

Tim Furness, the commissioning group’s chief of business planning and partnerships, said: “We are clear that it is not financially viable to have significant levels of empty beds.

“Therefore we are working with our providers to understand the level of empty beds and to agree actions focused on fully utilising empty beds, ensuring the homes remain financially and clinically viable.”

* How should we care for our growing elderly population? Email: letters@thestar.co.uk.