The Future of Residential Care for Older People

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2004 Local Government Service Group Conference
27 February 2004
Carried as Amended

This Conference:

1)Congratulates UNISON on the campaign against the two-tier workforce which culminated in the introduction of the Workforce Matters Code (March 2003)

2)Notes with alarm that companies who are attempting to take over residential care homes are looking at ways to avoid the code as they can only make profits by operating with a two-tier workforce

This Conference notes:

a)That local authority residential care homes for older people continue to be privatised and closed at an alarming rate leading to an increase in mortality of residents in the homes

b)That large profit making companies are now providing more residential care beds than ever before and that the corporatisation of the sector is resulting in a growing monopolisation of control under a number of large, multinational companies.

c)That the Government has continued to underfund this sector forcing councils to look at privatising services through using Best Value reviews supported by, in some cases joint reviews (for example Birmingham)

d)That the Government do not ring-fence money given to councils for providing services for older people which has led to councils using this money in other areas

This Conference recognises:

i)That thousands of UNISON’s lowest paid members working in the residential sector have faced moving into the private sector. In spite of TUPE regulations this has led ultimately to attacks on these staffs terms and conditions forcing many to leave the service leading to a lowering of the quality care for older people. This is also happening through Best Value regimes, a point found in the Kings Fund Report, Future Imperfect 2001

ii)That residents, when asked, overwhelmingly wish their homes to remain with the local authority

iii)That privatisation is often accompanied either by new homes being built or by a change of care services meaning huge disruption for residents often including the closure of their homes. There is growing awareness of the high mortality rate among older people facing such disruption

This Conference therefore instructs the Service Group Executive to:

A.Continue to campaign for the investment that is needed in this sector

B.Lobby Government to ensure that budgets for services for older people are properly resourced

C.Campaign to ensure that companies are not able to find ways to avoid the new Workforce Matters Code, and continue to try and strengthen the Code particularly in the areas of monitoring and enforcement

D.Immediately commission research that looks into the picture nationally, investigates the companies that are taking over the homes and looks at the real cost of providing care. This information can then be used by branches in negotiations with councils to build public support for campaigns against privatisation. (Such as the very good information UNISON has produced about PFI)

E.Organise a one day workshop for any branches campaigning around this issue to co-ordinate our campaigning work and share experiences and expertise

F.To work with residents, their relatives and campaign groups that oppose privatisation and closure of residential care for older people