Councillor in call for clarity over proposal to place patients leaving hospital in spare rooms

Cambridgeshire County Council

Cambridgeshire County Council - Credit: Archant

A councillor is calling for greater transparency over plans, being considered by Cambridgeshire County Council, to pay families to provide respite accommodation for hospital patients.

The CareRooms company, run by Paul Guadin, is proposing to pay homeowners £50 per night to make spare rooms, which will be adapted with mobility aides and the latest technology, available.

Patients would also wear monitors that can detect changes in heart rate, blood pressure and temperature, providing an early warning system for infections and other conditions.

The CareRooms proposal, described as “innovative” by the county council, aims to bridge the gap between hospital and home, and address the growing issue of delayed transfers of care, so-called bed-blocking, and also high levels of re-admittance to hospital after treatment.

Mr Guadin has been in talks with officers from the county council, but one councillor, who serves on the adult services committee, is angry about what she describes as a lack of transparency from the council.

In a written question put before the full county council, which met yesterday (Tuesday), Councillor Sandra Crawford asked why members of the committee had not been briefed on the proposals and why the matter did not feature on any future agendas.

Cllr Crawford said she was told not to “jump to conclusions” as the county council was not considering a pilot, despite conflicting information that a working group had been set up, and CareRooms was advertising for host families.

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She told The Hunts Post: “I was alerted to the possibility of the scheme in Cambridgeshire by a resident and through press reports. It is simply unacceptable that councillors charged with scrutinising public health and care services in the county are not given information to do our job and may be presented with a fait accompli through press reports on a proposal which rightly attracted both criticism and concerns when it was raised nationally last year.

“This entire discussion needs to be brought out into the open and scrutinised by not just councillors, but NHS trusts, social care providers and anyone who uses the NHS and may find themselves asked to accept a discharge to someone else’s home.”

Councillor Anna Bailey, chairman of the adult services committee at the county council, responded to the question by pointing out that the decision to provide CareRooms with information and insight into the system in Cambridgeshire fell within the ordinary business of the council. She said: “As the information given to CareRooms did not represent a change of council policy or commit the council to significant expenditure there is not a requirement to present it to committee.

“While at some point, it may be helpful to provide the committee with information on the council’s involvement, our contact with CareRooms is very much at an early stage. I can confirm that the county council has not made a decision to enter into a partnership with CareRooms.”

Mr Guadin has told The Hunts Post he felt it was proving difficult to have a “fair and open debate” and felt frustrated at the negativity surrounding the issue.

He said: “We are continuing to have project advisory meetings. We are very proud of what we have put together and the technology we offer is not being offered by anyone else. All we are asking is to have an open debate in a fair environment.”

In relation to the county council, he said: “They have simply offered to advise how we can support self-pay patients in the area safely and with the relevant checks and balances. They have never offered, nor have we asked for, a contract with the county council.

“We are moving ahead with hosts and shortly afterwards patients who are looking for convalescence or respite care bed, which are in scarce supply. Innovation is vital to break the cycle of bed blocking and re-admitting levels.”