West Northamptonshire Council approves nearly three percent rise in residential care service fees

Councillors agreed the increase due to a rise in market costs

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 2:21 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th June 2021, 2:22 pm
Residential care service fees will increase.

A proposed rise in residential and nursing care service fees of 2.65 percent has been approved by West Northamptonshire Council following an increase in market costs.

The council's cabinet agreed the rise which is an inflationary uplift for 2021-22 per bed, per week to support market delivery cost pressures.

A report to cabinet stated that there is 'an ongoing level of market fragility and disruption resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic that is likely to result in a degree of supply rebalancing.'

It stated bed vacancy rates have risen from between eight and 10 percent before the pandemic to a current level of around 21 percent. Six care homes are currently operating at below 60 percent occupancy.

And monitoring is taking place to 'identify and respond to emerging sustainability challenges that could give rise to service delivery issues and in some circumstances provider failure.'

At a meeting on Tuesday (June 8) it was resolved that cabinet:

-Noted the commissioning activity to date along with ongoing intentions to commission and procure residential and nursing care services for the future

-Approved for delegated authority be given to the executive director for WN Council's Adults, Communities and Wellbeing to undertake a procurement exercise to secure and implement an interim Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) framework to commence the 1 September 2021 for a period of 12 months

-Approved the proposed fee rate inflationary uplift of 2.65 percent for 2021-22 to support market delivery cost pressures.

WN Council currently accesses supply of residential and nursing care home services to meet care and support needs for older people through two existing contracts that will expire on 31 August 2021.

A report to the cabinet stated: "While impact of the Covid19 pandemic on local care home service supply and delivery requires detailed understanding to shape market sustainability responses, available data suggests that there is an ongoing level of market fragility and disruption resulting from the pandemic that is likely to result in a degree of supply rebalancing.

"For example, the bed vacancy rate across West Northamptonshire is currently estimated at 21 percent of total bed supply/capacity whereas pre-pandemic vacancy rates were typically eight-10 percent.

"In addition, West Northamptonshire bed occupancy levels show that there are currently six established care homes operating at below 60% occupancy, which can give rise to sustainability challenges.

"Quality assurance and delivery monitoring continues to take place using national and local data to proactively identify and respond to emerging sustainability challenges that could give rise to service delivery issues and in some circumstances provider failure.

"WN Council currently contracts with approximately 70 care home services to access a supply of externally commissioned beds for currently 711 older people aged 65 and over.

"Supply of residential and nursing care is currently purchased through two existing contracts that are active and operate in parallel with largely consistent service delivery requirements.

"These are: Care Home Services Framework and Care Home Services Dynamic Purchasing System.

"The main challenge presented by these separate contracts is that they operate different fee rate terms.

"There is evidence that this continues to result in a position where costs can vary when placements are secured, which does not support the council with overall market management objectives along with the ability to consistently secure an affordable supply to meet need."