Boss claims council is blocking access to care

By Julie McNicholls Vale   |   Deputy news editor   |
Friday 24th June 2022 12:00 pm
@JulieCambrian
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Kevin Edwards is the owner of Meddyg Care Dementia Homes ()

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A care home boss who took Gwynedd Council to court over unpaid fee arrears has accused the authority of blocking families from accessing specialist dementia care.

Kevin Edwards, owner of Meddyg Care Dementia Homes, issued a High Court writ against Gwynedd when it ignored a judgement made by Northampton Small Claims Court in April ordering it to repay £44,529 in fee arrears at its 40-bed Criccieth home. The council paid the debt after hearing enforcement officers had the power to its seize assets, but Mr Edwards claims the authority is now refusing to send any more residents there - except in an emergency - in favour of cheaper domiciliary care or care homes outside the county that do not offer the same level of high-dependency support. He also accused Gwynedd of turning its back on local people and failing to cater for complex needs.

“In a nutshell, Gwynedd don’t want to pay for specialist dementia services,” he said. “We are finding people left in their houses to struggle at home where there’s a lack of domiciliary care.

“The council are telling families they do not commission services from Meddyg Care, you have to go further afield, but there’s a completely different perspective from other councils who accept that to access specialist dementia services they have to travel. Anglesey, for example, have placed 10 people over the last three weeks – they have no problem at all. Here, people are being sent out of area where Gwynedd can secure a cheaper deal.

“Gwynedd are depriving people of access to specialist dementia care services. We’ve had funding for one or two places because it’s been an emergency and it’s end of life care. At that stage there’s no quality of life left for them. Basically, they’re leaving it as late as possible before admitting them. It’s a long journey from when you are first diagnosed with dementia and that journey should as enjoyable as possible. Gwynedd Council are not providing that support to the good people of the county. That’s extremely upsetting.”

Meddyg Care, which also owns a home in Porthmadog, said it had no choice but to launch legal proceedings in February when the council’s fees fell short of the sum needed to provide adequate care and remunerate staff – forcing it to operate at a loss. Social care champions Care Forum Wales (CFW) said the case, the first of its kind in Wales, demonstrated a gross and unlawful abuse of the council’s responsibilities to frail and vulnerable people in its communities.

The council has now paid the bill but CFW said it was a small and meaningless victory for the people of Gwynedd who are still being denied the right to the high-level dementia care they need. Mary Wimbury, chief executive of CFW, said: “This is an appalling state of affairs with the biggest losers being the frail and most vulnerable. It seems bizarre that those living in Gwynedd cannot benefit from the specialist care being provided on their very own doorstep.”

Gwynedd Council said: “As all providers are aware, Gwynedd residential and nursing fees for 2022/23 have been set in-line with the regional work. However, in light of cost increases, the council has committed to further work during the first few months of this financial year (2022-23), in order to evaluate the affordability and sustainability of paying a higher fee to providers. A report on fees will be discussed by cabinet on 28 June.

“We strongly dispute the claim we are blocking families from accessing specialist dementia care. Where a need for specialist dementia care has been identified, we work with individuals and their families to consider options, including residential care. We have a duty to provide value for money and cannot commission placements where we do not feel that the fee is sufficiently justified.”

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