Two out of five of Leeds’s council-run care home beds are lying empty as more and more older people opt for modern, privately run facilities or semi-independent living.
The city’s council-managed OAP care homes have 465 residential beds, but only 297 are currently occupied, leaving 168 (40 per cent) vacant spaces.
The figures have emerged as Leeds City Council’s decision-making executive board prepares to vote on proposals to close four of the city’s council-run care homes in a bid to streamline services, and ultimately slash £4m a year from the city’s overall social services costs.
Seventy six OAPs would have to be rehoused if the proposals get the go-ahead.
Under-occupation forms part of the key rationale for the planned overhaul of adult social care in Leeds.
Leeds City Council also currently funds 2,136 people in private-sector residential care homes, meaning it pays for a total of 2,433 bed spaces. The council insists the choice of a council-run or private bed space is down to the client. If they choose an independent home, and they are eligible for council funding, the authority will pay for them to stay in their chosen facility.
The city’s director of adult social care, Sandie Keene, said an ever-increasing choice of gleaming new privately run homes, and a range of semi-independent living options which are preferred by many older people, had meant that “there are more vacancies than there need to be” in Leeds’s council-run homes.
“We have been supporting fewer people in residential care over time,” she said. “So we have had to look across the city at how much residential care we need. In the context of the pressures of the council, it’s wise and sensible to think about making sure we have got just the right number of vacancies for the number of people who need care.”