Questions raised over future of Derbyshire council care homes

Campaigners have questioned whether Derbyshire County Council is ‘simply postponing closures’ of a number of its care homes.

By Michael Broomhead
Thursday, 9th July 2020, 12:00 pm

In February, the authority said seven care homes it runs were ‘no longer fit for purpose’ because of poor building quality and launched a public consultation on proposals to shut them.

East Clune Care Home in Clowne and Brimington’s Spinney were among those earmarked for closure this September while Holmlea Care Home in Tibshelf and Gernon Manor in Bakewell were set to shut in September 2021.

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The Spinney in Brimington was one of the seven Derbyshire County Council care homes threatened with closure in September.

But amid a public backlash, the Conservative-led council made a dramatic U-turn on the plans last month when Councillor Barry Lewis, leader of the authority, announced a new pledge that ‘no care home shall close without another to replace it’.

During the last meeting of the full council, Hilary Cave, a campaigner with the Derby and Derbyshire Keep our NHS Public group, said: “I welcome the decision not to proceed with the closure of the seven Derbyshire County Council care homes at present.

“Does this mean that the council is simply postponing closures – or that you now intend to retain those homes for the foreseeable future?

“I ask this question because I am aware, as a family carer for many years, that care home beds are becoming scarcer with every year that passes – and because I have seen for myself the high standards of care and staffing provided by the council-run homes.”

Coun Jean Wharmby, cabinet member for adult care, responded: “The outcome of the consultation was discussed at the cabinet members’ meeting on June 4 and it was decided that none of the Derbyshire County Council care homes will close until another local care home or alternative provision is in place.”

Following the meeting, a spokesperson for Derby and Derbyshire Keep our NHS Public said Coun Wharmby had ‘failed’ to say the seven council-run care homes would be kept open.

We asked the council if it could confirm the seven care homes would definitely be kept open.

A council spokesperson said: “We listened carefully to all the views given during the consultation and considered them alongside the impact of Covid-19.

“At the cabinet meeting on June 4 it was decided that none of the county council’s care homes will close until another local care home or alternative provision is in place and even then only after further consultation had taken place.

“As a result of that decision we now need to undertake revised modelling and planning to identify how the whole care home market can work together to respond to both the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and long-term future demographic demand in Derbyshire to ensure there is the right amount of the right type of accommodation and support for the future.

“It was vital that we carried out the consultation given the condition of the buildings, their urgent need for major repairs, the potential cost and the disruption to residents that refurbishments could bring about.

“Any significant new proposals would be brought before cabinet for consideration and would be subject to consultation.

“We will, of course, keep residents, relatives and staff updated as this work develops.”

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