County leaders say their plan to close seven care homes is “unfortunate”, “saddening” and not at all what it wanted to be considering – blaming Labour for the situation.
Derbyshire County Council’s cabinet met yesterday (Thursday, January 23) to set in motion plans which could see seven of its care homes closed.
A 12-week consultation will start on Friday, January 31 and last until Friday, April 24.
After this, the council will look again at the proposals and the responses it has received.
If it decides to continue with its plan, the first four homes could close as soon as this September (phase one), with three more by September 2021 (phase two).
Refurbishment for three separate care homes is also on the cards and, if approved, this could start from January next year.
Cllr Barry Lewis, leader of the authority, said: “This is the most difficult paper we have had to bring and not one we expected to bring – and certainly didn’t want to.
“I want to reassure residents, family of residents and carers that we will take their views on board.
“We weren’t expecting to be in this position, these homes are in this state due to underinvestment. It is a really unfortunate situation.
“We wanted to invest more into our homes and have a wider range of care. It came across our bows in a way we weren’t expecting.
“We expected at the start of this Conservative administration to spend £30 million on our care homes. We did not want to be closing any.
“One home has wiring that it 69 years old. In those instances, all the appropriate mitigations are in place to make sure that residents are as safe as they can be.
“This includes fire alarms, fire doors and fire wardens.
“The fault of these closures comes back to Labour.
“Previously, we had a plan to spend more than £200 million building five super centres and not to close any homes.
“Labour had a planned maintenance programme that was woefully inadequate. Some of these homes were dangerous.
“If people can afford to pay for their own care homes, there are plenty out there, we believe in a balanced market. But for those vulnerable residents who can’t, we need to have provision available.”
Last week, when the plans were announced, Labour’s now group leader, Cllr Paul Smith, had said that fault lay with the Conservatives for “failing to carry out the necessary repairs”.
He said that “If they (the Conservatives) had continued budgeting for and funding the work laid out in the planned maintenance programme, written by the Labour group, then this consultation may not need to have taken place”.
Opposition councillors are not permitted to speak at cabinet meetings.
Cllr Jean Wharmby, the cabinet member for adult social care, said: “I have no pleasure in bringing this paper today, it is an extremely worrying time for residents.
“I am saddened that we are in this position. I can assure you that we will do our best to support people through these uncertain times.
“Residents will be fully briefed and will be kept up to date. We will do our utmost to make sure everyone knows.
“We have been put in this position and we are trying to work out what is best to do.”
Cllr Simon Spencer, deputy leader of the authority, said: “Recently, I have been going through the process of finding a care home for a relative – and I know the challenges.
“What we found is that after an independent assessment, and I must stress it was independent, of the fabric of these buildings, is in a poor state.
“What has been quite clear is that the refurbishment needed is an unsustainable figure (£34 million across 10 homes).
“I take no pleasure in closing any care homes.
“I have to say, as someone who is, as I say, trying to find a home for a relative, I would not, with the evidence I have seen, chose to put my family member in these homes, purely considering the evidence.
“If there is an incident (as a result of the disrepair to the homes) this authority will be found wanting.”
Overall the closures and refurbishments would affect 300 residents and 458 staff.
Refurbishment of the three homes would cost £11.5 million.
The care homes which could be closed in phase one are:
East Clune Care Home, West Street, Clowne
Ladycross House Care Home, Travers Road, Sandiacre
Beechcroft Care Home, Nursery Avenue, West Hallam
The Spinney Care Home, Woodlands, Brimington, Chesterfield
The care homes which could be closed in phase two are:
Holmlea Care Home, Waverley Street, Tibshelf
Goyt Valley House Care Home, Jubilee Street, New Mills
Gernon Manor Care Home, Dagnall Gardens, Bakewell
The care homes which could be refurbished are:
Briar Close House Care Home, Briar Close, Borrowash
Rowthorne Care Home, Rowthorne Avenue, Swanwick
New Bassett House Care Home, Park Avenue, Shirebrook
As part of the consultation, the council will be hosting a series of meetings with residents, relatives and carers in the affected care homes.
There will also be a number of public meetings held in the county’s libraries – the dates of which will be announced shortly.
Alongside this, there will be an online questionnaire as well as paper copies available by ringing 01629 531 307 for people to fill in and give their views.
People can also write to the Stakeholder and Engagement Team, Adult Social Care,
County Hall, Matlock, DE43AG or email firstname.lastname@example.org.