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Issue:- 3 May  2012

Councils in North West are urged to act lawfully when funding older people who need nursing home care

LOCAL authorities in the North West should make sure they have acted lawfully in setting the fees they will pay for publicly funded nursing home residents over the next 12 months.

This was a key message from the Registered Nursing Home Association’s roadshow in Wilmslow, where care home owners, managers and senior care staff gathered to debate the challenge of delivering high quality services during a period of massive cost-cutting by both central government and councils.

Delegates from across the region were told that 3 successful judicial reviews mounted against local authorities in other parts of the country; Pembrokeshire, Sefton and Leicestershire; had established important precedents.

RNHA chief executive officer Frank Ursell said the 3 cases had shown that when councils decide how much they are willing to pay for frail, elderly residents to be looked after 24 hours a day, they have by law to take into account what it actually costs nursing homes to provide the care that is needed.

The RNHA has urged nursing homes throughout the North West to be vigilant in looking for possible lapses by councils in complying with the required procedures for setting the fees they will pay in 2012/13.

"Councils have to consult their local care providers about fee levels.  They also have to look closely at what it is actually costing nursing homes in their area to deliver the necessary quality of care, and at the likely impact of price rises and wage increases in the pipeline.”  He added:- “Councils cannot just decide to pay what they feel like paying, and to claim that it is all they can afford. That is not lawful. So we shall be asking nursing homes in Cheshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Lancashire to keep their eyes peeled and to let us know if they suspect that councils are trying to duck out of their responsibilities.  Ultimately, the quality of care depends on the level of funding available, and since around two thirds of residents rely on council funding for their places, any attempt by councils to freeze or cut the amount they pay will have an automatic knock on effect on the care provided to vulnerable older people." said Mr Ursell.

The RNHA is also calling on the families of older people in nursing homes to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman if they think that the cutbacks in council spending risk harming the level of service provided to their loved ones in care.

Said Mr Ursell:- "We hope very much that councils in the North West will lead the way in protecting services for older people. They can do that by ensuring that their funding for 2012/13 properly reflects the costs of delivering the care."


MERSEYSIDE Police have warned about a growing number of bogus officials being reported to them. The offenders have been calling at properties in some areas of Sefton posing as Water Board officials. They are telling the householders they need to come into their house to check to see if the water in the taps is running a blue colour. This is a method these people are using to gain access to homes. To protect yourself and your home from bogus callers it is suggested you take the following precautions:-

LOCK:- Keep your front and back doors locked, even when you are at home.

STOP:- Before you answer, stop and think if you are expecting anyone. Check that you have locked any back doors and taken the key out. Look through the spyhole or a window to see who it is.

CHAIN:- If you decide to open the door, PUT THE CHAIN or BAR ON FIRST. Keep the bar or chain on while talking to the person on the doorstep. (Normally, when the door is shut and locked, leave the bar or chain off in case of an emergency.

CHECK:- If someone who looks official calls at your door, always do the following:-

Ask for and carefully check their identity card, even if it they have a prearranged appointment (all genuine callers will have ID).

Do they look like the person on the card?

If you have received a letter about the visit is the name the same as that on the letter?

If you are not expecting them and they have not shown an identity card, do not let them in until you have double-checked that the caller is genuine.

If, after these checks, you have any doubts about the caller, especially if they came unannounced, tell them to call back later when someone can be with you. You can also check by phoning the firm they belong to. Look up the number in the phone book and check it against the card the caller has given you. Do not be tempted just to ring the number on the card as it may be a fake.

If in doubt KEEP THEM OUT.

Work starts on £1.3m cancer centre refurbishment

THE £1.3m refurbishment and extension to a cancer treatment centre for patients across north Sefton and West Lancashire is under way.

Representatives of the 2 charities who gave £500,000 each towards the cost of the work officially got started in a ceremony at Southport and Formby District General Hospital.

Marina Dalglish, from the Marina Dalglish Appeal, and Fred McClenaghan, from West Lancashire Community Hospice Association cut the first sod on the work watched by Trust chairman Sir Ron Watson CBE, Chief Executive Jonathan Parry, hospital staff and supporters, including Marina’s husband, Liverpool FC manager Kenny.

"The donation by the charities is a magnificent gesture which will be of huge benefit to patients and families who depend on the skill and care of our staff." said Sir Ron.

The refurbishment will see the centre, known as the medical day unit, significantly expanded in size internally as well as having a semi-circular lounge extension added. It will create a light, airy treatment space for patients, some of whom require up to eight hours of chemotherapy at a time. There will also be new consulting rooms and a more comfortable waiting area for patients.

"We are delighted to be involved in this project, particularly as this is for the community in which Kenny and I live.  I was astonished by how many people use the unit when I visited last year. So, I know patients will truly benefit from the significant improvements the charities’ donations are making possible." said Marina, of Birkdale, Southport.

Hospice association chair Mr McClenaghan added:- "We are delighted to be contributing on behalf of West Lancashire folk. Our charity was established to support non-inpatient care and this development compliments our funding of 'Queenscourt Hospice At Home' as it is delivered in West Lancashire."

Demand for chemotherapy treatments has grown by up to 15% a year since the medical day unit was last refurbished in 2005. This has been driven by people living longer lives and a growth in new treatments for cancer.

Southport Lions Club will also be contributing towards the cost of the project.  Sister Julie Marshall, who has day-to-day responsibility for the medical day unit, added:- “"The charities’ donations complement more than £50,000 raised by the many fundraising events held by friends and families of patients, from legacies left by them and donations given in their memory.   Investment in the unit also means we can continue to treat more people locally rather than them facing long journeys to specialist centres elsewhere."

Patients will continue to be treated in the present medical day unit until Friday 18 May when treatment will be split temporarily between Southport and Ormskirk hospitals.

Patients who attend clinics run by Clatterbridge Cancer Centre staff will be seen in Ward B at Ormskirk hospital. Everyone else will be treated in the former Ward 11a on the first floor at Southport hospital.

All patients will return to the refurbished unit when the work is complete in November.

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