Temporary changes to residential care home offer to be considered

Written by on 12th July 2022

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet will consider short-term changes to meet current demand – including the temporary closure of Ystrad Fechan and opening a new provision at Parc Newydd to support hospital discharge. Options to modernise residential care homes are also proposed for consideration by Cabinet later this year.

At their meeting on Monday, July 18, the council’s Cabinet is set to consider an officer report about the current demand and capacity across the Council’s residential care homes for older people. It outlines the huge effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has resulted in a large increase in care home vacancies.

In response to current occupancy rates and wider immediate pressures, the report proposes a short-term, temporary redesign of a part of the Council’s provision – which should increase stability, and ensure people can access good quality support and care when they need it. It therefore recommends to Cabinet that the following changes are made:

· The temporary closure of Ystrad Fechan Care Home in Treorchy, due to prolonged low resident numbers (currently 60% vacancies). The eight current residents would be offered to transfer to Pentre House, or another care home of their choosing that meets their needs. Residents and their families would be offered the support of a social worker or advocate to facilitate the move, while staff members would be offered a transfer to accompany the residents to Pentre House or another home.

· The temporary opening of up to 10 step-up step-down beds at Parc Newydd Care Home in Talbot Green, to support hospital discharge, in partnership with Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board. This would help alleviate some of the significant pressure in the health and social care system, with high levels of admissions and bed occupancy across local hospitals. Vacant beds at Parc Newydd (currently at 60% vacancies) will be used to facilitate the move, which is suitable given the care home’s location near to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.

On Tuesday, Cabinet could agree to the temporary amendments to residential care home service through the Ystrad Fechan and Parc Newydd proposals. Members could also agree to receive a report in autumn 2022, which sets out modernisation options for the future investment in Council residential services. Further investment proposals and any permanent changes to service provision would be considered following consultation and engagement with service users, staff and residents.

Councillor Gareth Caple, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said:

“The report to Cabinet Members next week seeks to respond to immediate service pressures, including the current demand for the service, and specific occupancy rates of our care homes.

“The report makes it clear that the low demand for traditional residential care, previously seen in figures for 2020, has continued. Officers have therefore brought forward recommendations which will, in the short term, increase stability and respond to recruitment and staffing challenges seen across the sector. The temporary arrangements proposed include the suspension of services at Ystrad Fechan Care home – and then looking ahead to the long-term shape of service delivery, a comprehensive service review including modernisation options is proposed to be brought forward.

“The eight Care home residents at this facility will be offered a transfer to an alternative care home which meets their assessed needs – while staff would also be offered a transfer alongside residents moving to a new provision. The Council would fully-support residents, their families and staff through any change, as a priority.

“In relation to the proposal for Parc Newydd Care Home, the scheme would be designed to reduce avoidable emergency admissions to hospital, improve patient flow through the urgent care system, and promote an older person’s return to independence following their release from hospital.

“Plans to modernise the existing provision across the Council’s care homes are included as part of our discussions next week. This was originally agreed by Members in December 2020 as part of the Council’s commitment to improve and increase residential options for older people. If agreed, those detailed options will be finalised by officers and considered at a future Cabinet meeting this year.

“The temporary changes to be considered next week are necessary to respond to the immediate pressures upon the service. It is evident that future need and demand for services is changing post-pandemic, and as a Council over the medium term, we will need to reflect upon the shape of these services to respond to a changing dynamic in the care sector.”

In December 2020, Cabinet agreed (following a comprehensive review and stakeholder consultation) that the Council should retain nine of its 11 care homes, refocusing on complex needs. It was agreed that Dan y Mynydd in Porth would be converted into the Porth Extra Care site, and Bronllwyn in Gelli redeveloped into specialist accommodation for those with a learning disability. Modernisation of the retained care homes would be outlined in a future report.

Key feedback from the consultation, which informed this decision, included that the Council’s care homes are popular, have served their communities

well, and provide a good standard of care via dedicated staff. It was also clear that demand for traditional residential care is decreasing, reflected in the occupancy figures of 53% across Council care homes in September 2020, down from 98% in March 2016.

Permanent admissions being restricted due to the pandemic, and pending the outcome of the care home review, has also resulted in a large decrease in occupancy figures. An increase in people being supported to live in their own home, and being placed in dementia and nursing care, has been experienced.

The report says there is clear evidence that an overprovision of care home beds in Rhondda Cynon Taf remains, with a 53% occupancy in Council care homes on average.


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