Controversial ‘CareBnB’ scheme could be rolled out in Cambridgeshire

A controversial Airbnb-like scheme that sees homeowners receive up to £1,000 a month to rent their rooms to hospital patients could be rolled out in Cambridgeshire.

Dubbed 'Carebnb' and described as 'Airbnb for social care', the private start-up CareRooms for those recuperating after treatment is bidding to launch a new trial in the county.

This comes after it was forced to terminate its first pilot with the NHS in Essex last November - despite receiving around 600 applications in three days - after concerns were raised about care being provided by non-professionals.

CareRooms was devised as a radical way to free up hospital space, as bed-blocking rates remain high while the NHS battles a heavy winter. 

Despite facing an avalanche of criticism, CareRooms is establishing a 'working group' with Cambridgeshire County Council and has begun advertising for 'host' households in the county.

The Conservative-controlled council confirmed the group would meet for the first time imminently to discuss the 'innovative CareRooms concept' but adds it has not committed to the pilot yet.

The controversial ‘CareBnB’ scheme that sees homeowners receive up to £1,000 a month to rent their rooms could be rolled out in Cambridgeshire. Image shows the programme's website at the time of its initial pilot in Essex in November last year before it got scrapped 

The controversial ‘CareBnB’ scheme that sees homeowners receive up to £1,000 a month to rent their rooms could be rolled out in Cambridgeshire. Image shows the programme's website at the time of its initial pilot in Essex in November last year before it got scrapped 

WHAT IS THE CAREROOMS SCHEME?

WHO WOULD PAY? 

The controversial plans would be funded by the NHS and local councils, but patients may be able to pay CareRooms directly in the future.

Each room would cost around £100 a night, with half going to the host. 

CareRooms would pocket the remainder, once care services are paid for. 

WHAT DID YOU HAVE TO DO? 

As well as renting out a room, those who sign up as hosts would be asked to cook three microwave meals for their patient each day (which are delivered straight to their door), provide them with drinks and 'offer conversation'.

Homeowners would not be required to have any prior care experience before housing their guest, but would be offered the opportunity to seek such training if they wish to.

What does CareRooms hope to offer?  

The plans do not require homeowners to have any prior care experience before housing their guest, but offer them the opportunity to seek such training if they wish to.

The scheme, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, claims to create 'a safe, comfortable place for people to recuperate from hospital'.

As well as alleviating chronic bed shortages, it alleges to stop delayed transfers of care, which are behind the worst bed-blocking rates ever recorded by the NHS.

Chairwoman of the council's adults committee Anna Bailey told HSJ: 'The council has not committed to piloting CareRooms, but we think the innovative concept is interesting and worth exploring.

'We would like to give CareRooms the space to explore its concept [and] help the company gain a deep understanding of the system through access to staff within it.' 

Ms Bailey added the make up of the working group is still being confirmed but would include senior adult social care council officers, council commissioners, and 'some frontline social care and NHS representation, possibly a nurse or community matron'.        

The project claimed hosts could earn up to £50 a night and just had to microwave meals 

The project claimed hosts could earn up to £50 a night and just had to microwave meals 

WHAT DO CRITICS THINK OF THE CAREROOMS SCHEME?

At the time of the initial pilot in Essex last year, angry campaigners were concerned the plans, distributed by flyers in hospital canteens, would 'open a huge can of worms'.

They also warned it was being advertised as a money-making venture for hosts, rather than emphasising care.

The Save Southend A&E group said the plans could scupper safeguarding procedures and lead to the financial abuse of people at their most vulnerable time. 

The campaign group, which consists of local residents and clinicians, added: 'We are shocked that an NHS trust is endorsing such a company.' 

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, a charity that aims to improve social care across the UK, also raised concerns, saying: 'The model of care, as described, raises questions about whether the safety

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