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Carmarthenshire Council in ‘cloud cuckoo land’ over care home fees

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A SOCIAL care champion has accused Carmarthenshire Council of trying to “defend the indefensible” over care home fees.

Cabinet member Jane Tremlett was unhappy after the authority was named and shamed by Care Forum Wales after they compiled a table that revealed massive discrepancies between the fees paid by different councils.

In the case of Carmarthenshire, it showed that the council pays £8,700 less per person, per year for Nursing EMI care than Torfaen Council in Gwent – for exactly the same level of care.

For a care home with 40 residents that adds up to a difference of more than £350,000 per year.

Cllr Tremlett had hit out after Care Forum Wales published a table highlighting the post code lottery of fees in Wales in which Carmarthenshire was seventh from bottom.

She claimed that the organisation, which represents nearly 500 independent social care providers, was causing division.

Mario Kreft, the chair of Care Forum Wales who was made an MBE for his contribution to social care, said: “Carmarthenshire Council clearly do not like being confronted with the truth because in their response they are trying to defend the indefensible.

“If they think it is fair that Carmarthenshire pays £8,765 per person, per year less than Torfaen in Gwent for Nursing EMI care for providing exactly the same level of service, they are living in cloud cuckoo land.

“This issue was laid bare once and for all by Merthyr Council a couple of months ago when councillors were given legal advice that it was unlawful not to pay fees that reflected the legitimate current and future costs of providing care, as well as the factors affecting those costs.

“They were warned the fees set needed to be adequate to enable providers to meet the specifications set by the commissioners, together with regulatory requirements.

“As a result, members in Merthyr voted for increases of up to 22 per cent and now we’ve seen two councils in North Wales, Gwynedd and Anglesey, following suit with increases of up to 25 per cent.

“The table we have compiled has highlighted the grossly unfair post code lottery of fees in Wales, with massive discrepancies between the top of the bottom – up to £11,000 per person, per year in some places

“Carmarthenshire Council are clearly upset about being named and shamed – but it’s their own fault.

“After years of campaigning for fair fees, the tide is turning and the momentum is heading one direction so this has come as a reality check for Carmarthenshire Council.

“Unfortunately, the council is trying to keep the true facts hidden from the good people of Carmarthenshire.

“It’s about time the cabinet member was honest and up front with the electorate about why they do not properly value the care provided for the most vulnerable people in our society.

“Contrary to what Cllr Tremlett suggests, this is actually all about seeing the big picture because she appears to be blinded to facts of the matter.

“Back in the 1990s Care Forum Wales campaigned for the introduction of national standards of care to be overseen by a national inspectorate and that came about 22 years ago.

“We’re now about see a new ratings systems introduced for social care with Care Inspectorate Wales applying the same criteria in different parts of Wales.

“It won’t take into account that a home in Torfaen receives £350,000 more than a home in Carmarthenshire which is grossly unfair.

“Some local authorities – notably Torfaen, Merthyr, Gwynedd and Anglesey – are really stepping up to the plate and should be applauded but it’s clear that there are others who cannot be trusted to do the right thing.

“This is why, as a matter of urgency, we need a complete overhaul of the system so that we have a national framework to ensure fair minimum fee levels.

“Without fair fees, the only way that care homes can remain viable is by charging top of fees so that they can meet those additional costs.

“Inevitably, those councillors are placing the burden on honest, hard-working families and it all adds up to a stealth tax on them at a time when the cost of living is going through the roof.”

Care Forum Wales, the organisation responsible for representing Welsh independent care providers, has come under attack from the council.

Care Forum Wales’ claims have been branded as unfair by Carmarthenshire cabinet member Jane Tremlett.

“We are repeatedly having to state that the language used by Care Forum Wales, even though it generates a headline, creates division when we should be presenting a united front across local authorities and providers to find long-term solution to funding social care,” she said.

“In Carmarthenshire we’re proud of the support we’ve offered the sector in general but particularly the support we provided throughout the covid crisis . But naturally the costs of running residential care can vary significantly area by area and our rate reflects this; this year Carmarthenshire’s above-inflation rise to the older persons sector has been generally well supported and we’ve made a commitment to our providers to review our Cost of Care model in this financial year, by working with the whole sector in the West Wales region to rebase our model, and update where required.

“Again, this crude league table fails to see the bigger picture and consequentially is not entirely accurate or helpful. We remain committed to continuing to engage with the sector as we have done for many years.”

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Health

Glangwili hospital receive fabric to make laundry bags

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Pictured with some of the laundry bags and squares are Nurse Louise McGee and Health Care Support Worker Abi Jones.

THANKS to donations, Hywel Dda Health Charities has provided fabric to make laundry bags and bonding squares for the Special Care Baby Unit at Glangwili Hospital.

Health Care Support Worker Louise Hughes said: “The laundry bags help parents to be involved in their baby’s care and the fabric squares help in the bonding between mother and baby.

“The laundry bags are placed at the end of each baby’s cot, providing a place to store soiled clothes, ready to be taken home to be washed.

“The laundry bags and squares are made for us by the mother of one of our members of staff, and we would like to thank for her kindness and time in making these.”

Louise added: “Parents tell us they find the bags very useful and have said they look homely which is nice to see when you are sat in a clinical area, and the bonding squares help them feel connected with their baby.”

Hywel Dda Health Charities is the official charity of Hywel Dda University Health Board. For more details about the charity and how you can help support local NHS patients and staff, go to www.hywelddahealthcharities.org.uk

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Glangwili Hospital is first in Wales to administer new osteoporosis medication

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GLANDWILI HOSPITAL has become the first in Wales to administer a new medication that will help patients suffering from osteoporosis. It was approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and it the first new osteoporosis drug treatment of its kind for over a decade.

The new treatment – Romosozumab – is now available in Wales for preventing future fractures in patients suffering from osteoporosis.

The bone-building drug is given as a simple injection under the skin. It is highly effective for preventing fractures by the way it acts on bone cells, particularly in postmenopausal women with severe osteoporosis. It is one of only two treatments that help to promote bone formation, and the first to reduce bone loss at the same time.

On Thursday 21 July Carole Bevan became the first patient in Wales to receive the medication at Glangwili General Hospital, Carmarthen.

She said: “I am very fortunate to be the first patient in Wales and quite pleased at being considered and offered this treatment. I did not feel the needle at all and I’m happy to self-administer the injection monthly for the next 12 months.”

Dr Abhaya Gupta, Consultant Physician at Glangwili Hospital, added: “The availability of this drug in Wales is an additional option for treating patients with osteoporosis, many of whom suffer devastating consequences from hip fractures, spine and wrist fractures.

“By its novel mechanism of action this treatment has the potential to revolutionise our approach to treating those people with severe disease who are at very high risk of fracture, especially when it is used as their initial treatment.

“With increasing numbers of elderly patients with osteoporosis, this injection is an additional drug available to specialists to treat these patients, helping to reduce disability and health and social care costs in the long term.”

Catrin Beddoe, a pharmacist at Glangwili Hospital, added: “This is a simple injection given once a month for one year to appropriate elderly female patients suffering from the devastating consequences of fractures, and I am pleased to be part of the specialist osteoporosis team involved in this exciting work.”

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Health

Give blood and help save lives in Carmarthenshire

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LOCAL residents are being called upon to help patients in need by giving blood with the Welsh Blood Service.

Donations are still needed daily by hospitals to treat patients with a range of conditions, including mothers and babies during childbirth; cancer patients receiving chemotherapy as part of their treatment; and by patients involved in emergencies.

The Welsh Blood Service has also experienced a sustained period of high demand from hospitals as they continue to reintroduce services such as routine operations that require blood products. This increase means more blood donors are needed to help meet these additional needs.

One donation has multiple uses as it can be split into three products: red cells, platelets and fresh-frozen plasma, meaning one donation can save or improve up to three adults or six babies’ lives.

Across Carmarthenshire, over 500 donations of blood and blood products are needed each month to provide care to patients at Glangwili General Hospital and Prince Philip Hospital.

Appointments are available at three locations – Kidwell Community Centre, The Ivy Bush Royal Hotel, Carmarthen and Llandeilo Civic Hall.

Alan Prosser, Welsh Blood Service Director, said: “Every day around 350 donations are needed to help the 20 hospitals in Wales we supply, including Glangwili and Prince Philip Hospitals.

“We’ve always had great support from our donors in the area but we’re urging more residents to consider becoming blood donors and supporting patients in need. We’ve managed to increase our capacity in the area and we’re hoping this will help make it easier for people to donate.

“We are particularly calling on existing O negative, O positive and A positive donors to come forward but if you are a new donor and don’t know your blood type don’t worry, please sign up and we’ll do that bit for you.

“Last month, 432 potentially life saving donations were made in Carmarthenshire.

“As a Service, we rely on the generosity of people living in Wales to provide vital donations to patients.

“By giving up just one hour of your time, you have a unique opportunity to make a difference to people in your community and beyond.

Additional safety measures are in place at all our donation sessions, all staff wear face masks and every item is cleaned between use.

Alan continued: “If you’ve never donated before, why not try something incredible this week – sign up to donate at one of the sessions in your local area and become a lifesaver.”

Book a lifesaving donation at: welshblood.org.uk or call 0800 252 266 today.

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