One of the owners of a private residential home has challenged social services bosses to explain how she is expected to provide a decent standard of care for the £49.34 a day Birmingham City Council is prepared to pay her to look after elderly people with dementia.
Pam Sale, who runs the Stoneleigh home in Stechford, accused the local authority of attempting to “blackmail” her into accepting a one per cent increase in the fees it pays the independent sector to care for clients.
Mrs Sale said she, and scores of other home owners, had been told by the council that no new residents would be placed with them if they refused to sign four-year contracts. But by doing so, she claimed, owners would face “financial suicide” and were likely to go out of business.
To make matters worse, the council pays almost double the amount it gives to the independent sector to run its own old people’s homes.
Mrs Sale bought Stoneleigh four years ago with her business partner Ann Smith. The pair have already spent £100,000 refurbishing the building to meet government care standards.
If the two accept the council contract, they will be signing up to a one per cent increase in fees now and a further one per cent in October. But the paperwork makes no mention of the size of any further increases over the four-year period.
Mrs Sale said: “The council are offering to pay us £49.34 a day to look after elderly people with dementia, and for that we have to provide food and pay for the heating costs. Our electricity bill alone is £800 a month.
“Providing 24-hour care for people with dementia is a huge responsibility and we were under the impression we were going to get some kind of reasonable increase this year.
“But this increase is worse than meagre. It is totally unacceptable and will put people out of business.”
Stoneleigh has 15 residents, two are privately funded and 13 paid for by the council. It is a familiar story across Birmingham, where 85 per cent of elderly people in care are looked after in independent homes – although most of them are council clients and paid for by the local authority.
Mrs Sale admitted: “I haven’t signed a contract yet, they want us to sign for four years. But there is no way we are going to survive.
“We take less than the staff, and they are on the minimum wage.
“People are frightened. They are being victimised by the council. They have got us over a barrel, it’s almost like blackmail.
“If we don’t sign the contract we won’t get any residents. That’s what they have told us. But if we do sign we are locked into a four year contract and we can’t make enough money to survive.”