Fees Battle Reaches Conclusion
24 October 2001

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The Highland Council has concluded an agreement, which will see it significantly increase its payments to the owners of private residential homes for older people.  The payments, which are (Pounds)16 per person per week more that the national minimum rate, will be backdated to 1st July.  The offer has been formally accepted by the Highland Branch of Scottish Care, the body representing residential providers within the Highland area.  It was tabled following national negotiations between the Scottish Executive, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and Scottish Care. 

Councillor Garry Coutts, Chairman of The Highland Councils Housing and Social Work Committee, welcomed the agreement.  He said: "I am pleased that we have concluded an agreement with Scottish Care.  The fees we have agreed to pay compares most favourably with any other area in Scotland. The outcome reflects the very high regard with which we hold the private home care service in the Highlands."  Councillor Coutts said he was disappointed that one private care home owner was not prepared to accept the new fees and remained in dispute with the council.  Mrs Sheena Sutherland, owner of the Helmsdale Home in Fort William, had given the council until 5 November to find new accommodation for the nine residents placed in the home by the council.   He said the Council was entirely happy with the service provided at Helmsdale and, if circumstances allowed, he would be delighted if the residents remained there. 

However, he said the Council could not give Mrs Sutherland special treatment by paying her more.  He said: "Given that the Council has been served notice to find new accommodation, we have no alternative but to identify suitable alternatives.  One alternative is to provide accommodation in Invernevis Home, Fort William.
This would offer the option of the residents staying in Fort William.  "It is, of course, entirely up to the residents to decide where they wish to stay. Choice is what modern care packages are all about."  He said the council had offered to meet families of residents individually in Fort William to discuss future care arrangements.  He said: "We want to explain the facts to the families and try and identify the best way forward for their loved ones. I sincerely hope that, in the light of the national and local agreements, Mrs Sutherland will be able to reconsider her position. That would be the ideal solution. "If she maintains her position, our priority is the care of the residents and we will do everything we can to minimise distress during their relocation to Invernevis or wherever they wish to be cared for." The increase results from recent national discussions between Scottish Care (representing the majority of care home providers in Scotland), the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and the Scottish Executive.

As part of these national discussions, the Scottish Executive has released an additional 17.5 million over two years to local authorities to pay for nursing and residential care for older people. Also as part of these national discussions, a national minimum rate for the purchase of nursing and residential care has been set for all Scottish Local Authorities to follow.  In terms of residential care, COSLA advised that all local authorities must pay a minimum of 231.70 per person per week for older people in residential care from 1st July 2001. Within The Highland Council area, a base rate is paid  for the purchase of residential care and in addition to this rate, quality supplements totalling 12 per person per week are also paid to providers providing single room and en-suite services. These quality supplements are intended to promote higher standards of care.

As part of the COSLA deal, The Highland Council has offered an additional 10.70 to all residential providers within the Highland area.