Majority of residents living in Derbyshire care homes threatened by closure could be forced into private facilities
The majority of vulnerable and elderly residents living in Derbyshire council care homes threatened by closure look to be forced into private facilities.
Independent inspection reports commissioned by Derbyshire County Council show that 193 residents would be affected by plans to close seven of its homes.
However, these reports, carried out by property consultants Faithful Gould, detail that there are only 75 vacancies in council care homes in the vicinity of each of the threatened homes.
This leaves the majority of residents – 118 – heading towards a move into a privately-run care home.
If the plans are approved, the most affected homes are Ladycross in Sandiacre and Beechcroft in West Hallam – which would see all 27 and 31 residents respectively moved into private homes, with no vacancies in nearby council-run homes.
Alongside this, 29 out of the 32 residents in Gernon Manor, Bakewell, look set for privately-run homes.
The inspection reports also show that while millions of pounds in repairs is required to the seven threatened homes – £18.45 million in total – nearly a quarter of this relates to consultancy and professional fees (£4.15 million).
Meanwhile, it has emerged that a figure of £34.65 million cost of repairs to care homes being quoted by the council refers to 15 of the authority’s homes – not just the seven threatened with closure.
This cost of repairs is the core reason why the council is considering closing the seven care homes.
Last month, the council had confirmed that it intended to transfer as many of the affected residents as possible, along with more than 300 care home staff affected, to its other facilities.
However, the authority also said that residents would not suddenly be expected to pay for their care.
The council already, in effect, subsidises residents to stay at privately-run care homes and this could be further extended.
It also said that it aimed to move away from residential care in the future and seeks to place residents in extra care facilities or in their homes, with assistance.
Affected residents and their relatives have already raised concerns over the potential moves, saying there were reasons why they chose their current care homes over other council-run or private facilities.
This includes vicinity to their home town, travel time for relatives and specific facilities within the homes which would allow them the level of independence they desire.
Also revealed in the inspection reports is that a total of £365,117 was highlighted as being needed to be fixed immediately to meet “statutory compliance” across the seven threatened homes.
While much of the required repairs relate to roofing and rewiring, with some not homes having been upgraded in decades, other advised improvements include the spending of thousands of pounds per home on bedside table lamps.
A spokesperson for the GMB trade union, which represents many staff at the care homes, said: “What we are hearing from staff, families and residents is crystal clear, it’s time for Derbyshire County Council to take a breath, step back and think about the impact these closures will have on residents in communities across Derbyshire.
“The council has failed to use its budget for care home provision properly and instead would prefer to use this an opportunity to pass responsibility for our care homes onto someone else.
“Local people are clear on this one, they’re just not going to let that happen.”
A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: “We launched a consultation into proposals to close seven of our care homes and refurbish a further three after an independent report found the homes needed significant work to maintain the safety of residents.
“Once we became aware of the extent of the repairs and safety precautions needed in these homes we carried out immediate work to upgrade fire alarms, replace fire doors, increase evacuation equipment and have extra carers on duty to act as fire wardens at night to ensure safety.
“But these are only temporary measures. Even if repairs were carried out, the homes proposed for closure wouldn’t be suitable for the longer term as they are not able to meet modern care standards with rooms that are too small for essential equipment and residents sharing toilets. The council also has to consider if carrying out the work – which would cost £34million – is a good use of public money.”
To reiterate, the £34 million quoted is across 15 assessed council-run homes not just the seven threatened by closure.
The spokesperson continued: “Our consultation offers local people a chance to have their say on the proposals and everyone’s views will be considered and taken into account before anything is decided.
“There are a number of ways for residents to have their say. As well as an online questionnaire, we’ve organised meetings for residents and family carers in each of the homes mentioned in the proposals, and there are information drop-in sessions being held at local libraries in each area.
“People can fill in an online questionnaire at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/care-home-review. For a paper copy call 01629 531307 or email [email protected] The consultation closes on April 24.
“We’d like to emphasise that no decisions have been made yet and we’d urge everyone to take part in the consultation.”