The end of the council-run care home for old folks is nigh.
Kirklees Council has revealed plans to privatise some of the facilities it built a little over a decade ago.
It wants to stop operating its final four homes, all built in 2006, bringing to an end Kirklees’ in-house operation of residential and respite care.
The council has vowed not to close them.
It is hoped private care companies will snap them up, taking the staff and the residents with them.
Both have 30 places and ten respite beds.
Council chiefs cannot say how much they hope to get for the businesses due to commercial confidentiality.
The council may also decide to retain the buildings and lease the premises to new operators; which could be private firms, a charity or a social enterprise.
Two ‘intermediate care homes’, Ings Grove House in Mirfield and Moorlands Grange at Netherton, are likely to be taken over by Locala, the not-for-profit health firm that runs community care for the NHS in Kirklees and Calderdale.
They have no permanent residents, but both offer 40 spaces for people who need short term temporary care.
Overall, it is hoped the move will save taxpayers in excess of £1m per year.
The council could also receive cash for the sale of the operation and premises.
Commenting on the plan to offload premises, built just 11 years ago, Kirklees Council’s Strategic Director for Adults and Health, Richard Parry, said: “Let’s be clear, we’re not giving them away.
“They are of a much higher standard than many existing care homes which is why we know people want to buy them.
“This will be about getting the best value for local taxpayers, that isn’t just about money, it’s also about quality.
“We’ll be looking at the trade-off between those two features.”
Mr Parry revealed one of the key reasons behind the move was the increasing difficulty of meeting the standards of health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
He said the cost of running four homes was similar to that of running dozens of homes, which independent firms could do more efficiently.
“We anticipate buying care from a private provider will save us money,” he added.
“The CQC are rightly expecting higher standards, it’s becoming harder and harder to meet them.
“If you’re only running a couple of care homes in and amongst all the other things councils do, it’s hard to keep on top of it.
“We’ve got some great staff but this is increasingly a specialist business and we’re not a specialist care home provider.”
Clr Viv Kendrick, portfolio holder responsible, said the council would be “exceedingly responsible” in negotiating the best deal for the 211 staff, residents and their families.
She added: “This is about doing the best for residents, and being part of the older population I’m keen we get it right.”
It is hoped both residential homes will be enhanced to offer nursing care, of which there is a huge shortage in Kirklees.
Currently, if residents become in need of round-the-clock nursing care they are asked to leave.
Only 70 of the 2,892 care homes for older people in Yorkshire are now run by local authorities.