Councillors rip into care cost estimates
12:00 24 March 2014
Angry town hall chiefs have torn to shreds county figures justifying closing down a dementia care home – denouncing them as a ‘work of fiction’.
County care bosses want to close Davey Court in Littleham and offload clients into ‘cheaper’ private homes, writes David Beasley.
Documents by the cash-strapped county authority have pegged the weekly cost of caring for a dementia sufferer in a private-sector care home at £426.
But on Monday, with just a week to go before the consultation closes, town councillors rubbished the estimates as being 40 per cent below the real cost.
And they warned that if the figures were used as part of the case to close the home, it could pave the way for legal action.
County chiefs had been invited to explain the figures – but refused to attend.
Town councillor Mark Williamson said he was ‘staggered’ and added: “I do know something about care home costs.
“I spoke to six care home owners in Exmouth and with that figure they virtually fell about.”
The actual figure, he said, varied between £600 and £700 – and that was a ‘basic’ package not including dementia care.
Cllr Williamson added that he checked with two other surveys costing care in the UK – one of which was carried out by Bupa – and both backed up the £600 figure.
Councillor Ian Stewart said: “In a court if you rely on figures provided by another and they are found to be inaccurate, you can pursue a case for misrepresentation.
“There are three people here who have disproven them just by looking on Google.” How many civil servants did it take to produce these documents? And they can’t even get them right.”
He added: “What I would like is a general letter saying ‘thank you very much for your consultation but what a wonderful work of fiction. Please could we have some accuracy in the figures’. At which point we can then challenge the concept.”
Councillor Jill Elson, East Devon District Council’s communities chief, told how she and private care providers recently attended a consultation event on the care home closure plans.
She said: “We just fell about laughing at the figures. Those from the private sector just could not believe them either. They are talking £650 to £700 a week.”
Councillor Williamson added: “If [the county council] goes ahead on the basis of these figures, they open themselves up to a judicial review.”