Seven council-run Derbyshire care homes at risk of closure

Seven council-run Derbyshire care homes are once again at risk of closure after a stay of execution last summer.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 6:01 pm
The Spinney Care Home at Brimington.

The care homes in question in Sandiacre, West Hallam, Clowne, Tibshelf, Brimington, New Mills and Bakewell, are all run by Derbyshire County Council.

It says the aging homes are in a poor state of disrepair and need £30 million spending on them in order to keep dozens of residents and hundreds of staff living and working there safely.

Alongside this, the authority said there was a declining need for care homes, with more people preferring to stay in their own homes, with support.

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The council has now proposed three core options for the seven homes, ranging from long-term closure to permanent closure.

These are:

Close the homes for up to 40 weeks, spending £27 million on repairs, with a “pressing need” to do so by September 2022

Close the homes and move residents to other “local, suitable alternative provision”

Close the homes and move residents to “any available suitable alternative provision”

The council has said that even if the repairs are carried out, the homes are “no longer fit for purpose and do not have the space, facilities or capability to be adapted to provide high quality care for older people with increasingly complex needs”.

This alludes to the eventual closure of the homes.It says option two is the “likely most viable option” but will “keep an open mind”.

The affected homes are:

Ladycross House, Sandiacre Beechcroft, West Hallam East Clune, Clowne Holmlea, Tibshelf The Spinney, Brimington Goyt Valley House, New Mills Gernon Manor, Bakewell

The public is now being asked to contribute to a 12-week consultation from November 22 until February 14 on the proposed options for the homes, after which the council will make a decision.

A report on the consultation would then be discussed by the council cabinet on April 7 with social work teams to assess patients for their “suitability to move” from April 11, depending on the decision made by leading councillors.

The council says the proposed closure of the seven homes could boost the authority’s budget by £7.6 million, though this does not include the potential profits from selling the sites, security for the sites while closed and potential redundancy payouts for staff.

It says the cost of sourcing up to 103 beds for current residents at the seven homes would be around £3.2 million, reducing the budget boost to £4.4 million (minus the above sales, security and redundancy).

There are said to be 73 long-term residents in the homes as of July 20, while a council press release lists this figure at 68.The report says there are also 18 short-term residents as of July 20.

Last January, the county council announced its plans to potentially close seven of its care homes.

This was met with hefty opposition from residents and their relatives, with more than 9,000 people signing petitions objecting to their closures.It was this opposition which the council’s leading Conservative administration said caused it to scrap its immediate closure plans.

The administration revealed a new pledge that “no care home shall close without another to replace it”, before listing a number of scenarios in which this could happen.

This pledge detailed that “if a care home is to close after the start of 2022 there will be new alternative provision to replace it”.

It has still not been specified if the potential replacement homes would be of the same size, located in the same area or offer the same general service – not a specialised facility.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service detailed in January that if any of the seven homes were to be closed, residents could be moved up to 10 miles away – the adopted definition for “local” replacement provision.

This would be the equivalent of moving from Derby to Heanor or Chesterfield to Alfreton.

Meanwhile, a “suitable” replacement home would “likely” be another residential care home.

A “reasonable” alternative would be that which is the most appropriate setting for the individual, based on an assessment of each residents’ needs.

It says these guidelines “must be viewed entirely subjectively and subject to an individual’s personal circumstances, which may require those parameters to be flexed in order to provide the best suitable alternative provision that will meet their appropriate individual needs”.

The council said in January it had and still has a temporary pause on any long-term stays at the at-risk care homes until significant repair work has been made to ensure they are safe to stay in, including extensive rewiring.

It has now put forward the decline in long-term stays as a reason the seven homes could be closed due to reducing demand.

It says that before the pandemic, long-term admissions to residential care homes in Derbyshire dropped by a quarter.

The authority says during the pandemic, this fell a further 20 per cent in 2020/21.

It says across Derbyshire almost 40 per cent of care home providers are reporting occupancy rates below 80 per cent.

In February last year, the LDRS revealed that the majority of residents living in Derbyshire care homes threatened by closure could be forced into private facilities.

This was due to the lack of capacity in other council-run care homes in the vicinity of each threatened home which had sufficient spaces available.

Councillor Natalie Hoy, cabinet member for adult social care, said: “It is clear that Covid-19 has had a long-lasting impact on the way we all live our lives, including for our older residents.

“Although we were already seeing an increasing trend of older people choosing to remain independent rather than going into residential care, the pandemic has put that into even sharper focus.

“We have to review all possible options in relation to these residential homes to ensure that older people live in buildings which are safe, fit for purpose and meet all the required standards to provide them with the best possible care.

“It is necessary to consult again on these proposals as residents could have to move out for a period of up to 40 weeks and staff be re-deployed.

“I understand that this will be unsettling but if members of cabinet agree to consult on the options, no decisions about the future of any of these homes would be made until we’d heard from our residents, their families, staff and our partners and taken their views into account.

“I’d like to reassure everyone that we would keep an open mind and if any other options were put forward during the consultation for a viable future for these homes then we would of course give full consideration to these too.”