Seven Derbyshire care homes at risk of closure
The future of seven Derbyshire care homes with nearly 200 residents and more than 300 staff is in doubt.
Derbyshire County Council (DCC) has given several key reasons why it intends to close seven of its 23 residential care homes and extra care facilities, bringing the number down to 16.
These are: A backlog in maintenance, that the homes are not up to 21st century standards and that it will soon no longer require the amount of provision it currently has.
The mooted closures affect homes all over the county, including Bakewell, Chesterfield, Tibshelf and Sandiacre.
It is thought that 195 residents will be affected by the plans, along with 311 members of staff.
Residents are to be transferred to the county’s remaining care homes and extra care facilities.
This will force their family and friends to travel, in some cases, many miles further than they currently do to visit their loved ones – if they can make the further travel at all.
It has also been confirmed that residents will not suddenly be expected to pay for their care.
Meanwhile, the council says that it intends to retain all staff, either by transferring them to other homes which are having to use agencies to fill vacancies or to other departments.
However, it said it would be “impossible” to confirm that it would retain all staff.
The council will not say how much the proposal is set to save it, saying that it was ‘not a budget-based decision’.
Helen Jones, the authority’s head of adult social care and health, shed light on the proposals.
She says that the seven care homes will be closed in two phases, with four in the first phase being closed “more immediately” and the other three in the “longer term” following what is proposed to be a three-month consultation.
Meanwhile, two care homes in Swanwick and Shirebrook are set to be refurbished at a cost of several million pounds.
This would affect 105 residents and 147 staff.
The estimated cost of repairs to all 10 care homes, those that could close and those it intends to refurbish, is £34 million – although it is said this could increase once further investigations are carried out.
If the proposed closure of seven of those homes is carried out, the cost of refurbishing the three homes would be £11.5 million.
Ms Jones says that building surveys, commissioned by the council and carried out independently, found that an “extensive” amount of repairs were required for the 10 highlighted care homes – including the total rewiring of each property.
The surveys started in autumn 2018 and lasted a number of months – meaning the council has known of the uphill battle facing its continued running of several extensively-dilapidated homes for the best part of a year.
Since the disrepair was uncovered, immediate work to upgrade fire alarms, replace fire doors and increase night-time staffing was carried out.
Ms Jones said: “It is really regrettable for me as the director of adult social services that we find ourselves in this position, because it is going to be a really worrying time for residents, their loved ones and for staff.
“It is not the sort of thing that is done lightly, however, this set of proposals to cabinet emanated from the building surveys that we had done and our learning about the state of the buildings and the impact that that could have on the health and safety of those residents.”
Ms Jones said that the electric wiring in some of the council’s care homes is “very old” and there is “great concern” about the state of the buildings.
It is the condition of the buildings that is the “primary factor” for considering their closure, she says.
However, saying that the buildings are “not fit for purpose” she says “in terms for what we would want for ourselves or our loved ones, they don’t meet the spec”.
She says that some homes need new roofing and some do not have en-suite facilities, meaning residents have to leave their room to go to shared facilities.
Ms Jones says that in one home, furniture has to be moved around in the residents’ rooms in order to properly hoist them in and out of their beds.
She says she has been told the homes could not be converted to bring them up to modern standards.
Ms Jones said: “These aren’t the homes that we would want to be living in or that we would want our loved ones to be living in – and in my view, they are not a good enough quality for Derbyshire’s people.”
She also says that there will be less need for residential homes in the future.
Ms Jones said: “There is a question then about whether we should be using public money to refurbish homes that in the long term we are not going to actually need – as well as them not being a good enough quality for the people of Derbyshire and not being able to modernise them at a 21st century standard.”
On the future of the council’s remaining care homes, not affected by the current proposal, Ms Jones said: “I can’t possibly predict what decision might be made by councillors in the future because those decisions are for councillors to make, not for me to make.”
She said the potential for family members to see their loved ones moved to care homes beyond their reach is “absolutely appreciated and that will be given absolute consideration”.
Ms Jones said: “I have to ensure that there are sufficient care homes and that they are reasonably spaced in geographic areas.”
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
Last June, the Derbyshire and Derby Clinical Commissioning Group revealed a move to close some of its beds at Ilkeston Community Hospital in exchange for creating more beds at Ladycross House Care Home – which is now among those set to close.
The proposals to close seven care homes will be discussed at the authority’s cabinet meeting next week on Thursday, January 23 – after which a consultation will be launched for residents affected by the plans, along with their families and the staff working at the homes.
Papers which should give more detail on the proposals are expected to be published later today.
The council has informed all of the residents and staff at the affected homes, along with the families, about the proposals.
The move comes seven years after the Conservatives, in their previous administration, proposed the closure of 20 care homes, and four years after the former Labour administration closed four care homes.
Labour says it closed the four care homes in order to protect the rest – and had planned a refurbishment programme for these homes.
The county council says there are nearly 200 private nursing and residential care homes in the county.
The authority estimates that by 2030, 17,275 people in Derbyshire will be living with dementia, a 53 per cent increase from 2017.
Meanwhile, by 2035, the population of Derbyshire which is aged 65 and over will have increased by nearly 60 per cent from 2016.
It said in a report last May that “ensuring affordable provision of nursing and residential care in some parts of the county is an ongoing area of focus” but also that “supporting people to live independently in their own homes is a shared priority for health, housing, district and borough councils in Derbyshire”.
The authority now says that by 2035: “There will be less of a need for residential care with more emphasis on working with partners and developers to create community-based services, care-ready housing, extra care or provide support extra support to help older people remain independent at home for longer.”
Cllr Jean Wharmby, the cabinet member for adult social care, said in full council last week that the authority “will work with what we have got and we are committed to providing the best possible care for the people of Derbyshire”.