Care homes residents can be sure of future, pledges county chief

SUFFOLK: New owners are today being sought for Suffolk County’s 16 care homes.

As the council invites formal bids from potential new owners, Colin Noble, portfolio holder for adult and community services, has told The Evening Star that residents can be assured of their futures.

Earlier this year the news came from Endeavour House that in a bid to save about �4million the council’s care homes would be put up for sale.

This caused some concern among the 526 residents in the 16 homes who feared for their futures.

But Mr Noble said during the process the focus for chiefs at the council is to find potential buyers who share the same ethos about how the care homes should be run.

He said the county council pays for the care of about 2,300 people living in private care homes, but explained the authority run homes have become “unsustainable”.

With all 16 council-run care homes rated good or excellent, Mr Noble said the authority strives to find placements for people in the private sector to reflect their high standards, and that is set to continue, he vowed.

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“As we look to seek new parties to take over our homes we are looking for our ethos to continue,” said Mr Noble.

“We are asking independent care providers, small and large companies to come and talk to us about their visions for the future.

“So far we are really encouraged by the expressions of interest.

“It is not just about facts and figures, this is about our own care, our parents and their futures.”

He said Suffolk is facing an ageing population, with around 67,000 people in Suffolk over 75 today. That number is expected to reach 127,000 by 2030.

With more people needing care, Mr Noble said the money saved by selling off the care homes will ensure the council is able to provide care places in the private sector for more people.

He said with more than 2,000 people already in the private sector the council’s team of social workers has a comprehensive network to ensure standards are upheld.

“People we place in the private sector are there because they are good and we know that. That will not change, we will not just walk away,” he said.

The 16 homes will be divided into two groups of eight, one set in the east of the county and the other in the west.

The county council will be looking for interested parties to take on one group or the other, or both.

In April next year the bids will be taken to cabinet where the decision will be taken about how to move forward.

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