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Care capacity in Norfolk 'thinly spread' across county, report claims

PUBLISHED: 22:50 15 May 2019 | UPDATED: 22:50 15 May 2019

Stock photo of a carer and a senior woman. Photo: Getty

Stock photo of a carer and a senior woman. Photo: Getty

Archant

People requiring residential care in some areas of Norfolk are only left with services rated as 'inadequate', a report claims.

A study commissioned by Age UK found large areas of the country were "care deserts" where sufficient social care services are unavailable.

Norfolk was one of five areas in the country examined as part of the analysis, conducted by Incisive Health, an independent health consultancy firm.

The report said while care home capacity was more evenly distributed in our county than other parts of England, it was still "thinly spread".

It claimed this could result in a lack of choice, with residents unlikely to have more than one or two providers to chose from in their area.

Furthermore it claimed some areas in Norfolk were only left with services rated as "inadequate".

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK said: "This new report shows how chaotic and broken the market for care has become after years of underfunding and the absence of determined government action to ensure the right workforce is in place.

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"The end result is laid bare by the authors - the emergence of care deserts and a deeply worrying lack of nursing home places, in particular, leaving some of our most vulnerable older people high and dry."

The report said there were large gaps in provision of care home beds with nursing across Norfolk, with the number declining "precipitously".

"This suggests, at least to some extent, that providers have been focussed on care home capacity, rather than nursing beds that are harder to staff and maintain," the report added.

The study found that more than one in four postcode areas in England - 2,200 out of around 7,500 - had no residential care provision.

Two thirds (5,300) had no nursing homes, for people with more acute problems.

The study said a lack of staff, particularly nurses, was severely limiting the care providers are able to offer.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council - which does not run the county's homes but does have a social care responsibility - said: "We are committed to supporting sustainable growth in the care market and that end we are investing an additional £11.2m in fees from April this year. We also backed the national Every Day is Different campaign to encourage people to consider a career in adult social care.

"While we work very closely with homes under special measures to ensure the wellbeing and safety of residents it is ultimately the responsibility of the home owner to ensure that the needs of residents are met. Where the council is not assured that residents receive good quality care we will take proportionate steps to identify alternative care arrangements."

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