Modernising Services for the Elderly (19/12/06)

The Highland Council decision to enter into a long-term partnership with the independent sector to deliver 160 care home places across four areas of the Highlands took another step forward this week when Councillors attending a Care Home Sub-Committee agreed that interested groups will be fully consulted before the specifications for the various tender documents are agreed and advertised Europe-wide.

They also agreed the successful tenderer or tenderers will be chosen on the basis of set criteria, which will include a proven track record of delivering high quality and flexible services, which ensure the public get the best out of the community care pound. The Council currently provides residential care which costs £10,000 per resident per year more than the independent sector.

The Care Home Sub-Committee asked that the option of day care provision be included in the tender, recognising the importance of this service to older people living in their own homes.

Director of Social Work, Harriet Dempster, stressed a very significant amount of work required to be undertaken before the Council was in a position to embark on a tendering process.  "Following consultation and debate, the Council needs to agree criteria for the contract specification and a very thorough evaluation framework for the bids we receive. This is a time consuming exercise, so it will not be a quick fix."

The Sub-Committee stressed the importance of keeping residents, relatives and staff fully informed during the exercise.

It is intended that interested parties will be invited to submit bids to deliver the required 160 care home places across four locations in Highland.   The new services will reprovide those services currently delivered at the Council’s 7 care homes in the following areas:

Mid and East Ross: Duthac House, Tain; Urray House, Muir of Ord (56 residents); Inverness: Burnside and Ach an Eas, both Invernesss (44);

Badenoch and Strathspey: Grant House, Grantown; Wade Centre, Kingussie (30); Lochaber: Invernevis House, Fort William (30).

Services will be secured on the basis of a contract spanning a minimum of 15 years, promoting continuity of service and security for staff who will transfer to the independent provider.

 Services would require to:

  • Meet the need of frail older people and be delivered in accordance with the requirements of the Care Commission by staff who meet the registration requirements of the Scottish Social Services Council;
  • Cater for a limited number of short term admissions – to be determined by the Council;
  • Cater for people with dementia in line with recognised good practice. 

The provider of care services would require to adhere to admission criteria and performance targets set by the Council and demonstrate adequate staffing levels, procedures and policies and quality assurance.

Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of the Housing and Social Work Committee, said: "I fully appreciate the sensitivity of our decision to proceed with the tendering process.  We promise to keep people informed about the process and to make it as open and transparent as we can. 

"We would not devote so much time and effort unless we were sure that it was in the best interests of our older people.  There is active interest from the independent sector and we want to take the exercise to the next stage."


Note:  The Council currently spends £11 million per year on providing care for 330 residents in 21 care homes. At the same time, it buys services from the independent sector to provide residential care for 1,000 older people.

It currently costs the Council approximately £10,000 more per person per year to provide care in Council care homes as compared with the cost of purchasing that care from the independent sector.

Residential care is being reviewed because Care Commission standards require care providers to upgrade facilities, including the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.


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