Derbyshire care home closure plans to be approved

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Plans to permanently shut down seven Derbyshire care homes will be rubber-stamped next week, despite a petition signed by more than 2,000 people to save them.

Derbyshire County Council held a 12-week public consultation over the future of the homes, during which more than 80 per cent of the 483 respondents raised concerns over the distress their closure would cause residents and relatives.

The figures have been revealed in a report due to be presented to Cabinet on Thursday, May 5, in which councillors will vote on recommendations to approve the closure of the following homes –

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Beechcroft, Nursery Avenue, West Hallam East Clune, West Street, Clowne Holmlea, Waverley Street, Tibshelf The Spinney, Landsdowne Road, Woodlands, Brimington Goyt Valley House, Jubilee Street, New Mills Gernon Manor, Dagnell Gardens, Bakewell Ladycross House, Travers Road, Sandiacre

Derbyshire County Council's Cabinet will vote on the plans next weekDerbyshire County Council's Cabinet will vote on the plans next week
Derbyshire County Council's Cabinet will vote on the plans next week

Originally the authority claimed £27million would be needed to pay for repairs on the properties including replacing boilers, heating systems, refitting all kitchens and bathrooms, roofing works and installing sprinkler systems – however this figure has now increased to £31million.

The reason the authority has given for forging ahead with the closures is that the buildings are no longer fit for purpose and do not have the space to use essential equipment to provide the care needed for residents.

It also says the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant decrease in demand for care homes, with more older people choosing to stay at home as long as possible.

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Councillor Natalie Hoy, Cabinet member for Adult Care, said: “We’ve listened to people’s views and I understand the concerns raised but the extent of the work needed is significant.

She continued: “Even if we carried out all the work, these homes still wouldn’t offer the space or modern facilities to provide high quality care for our residents or give them the privacy and respect we’d want for ourselves and members of our family.

“We need to make sure people with more complex needs can be cared for with the dignity they deserve so that means level-access showers, bedrooms which are big enough to use equipment, disabled toilets, access to outside space and be dementia-friendly in design.”

She said she wanted to reassure residents and their families that the council would support them to find ‘local, suitable’ alternative accommodation, adding that the council will be picking up the bill for the relocation of residents.

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The authority has already previously stated that residents would need to move out of the homes by September this year to allow for ‘invasive work’ to be carried out at the homes.

Multiple protests were held outside County Offices, in Matlock, over the proposals, organised and attended by concerned councillors, members of the public and trade unions, and the Save Our Care Homes petition was launched.

Union leaders have now condemned the announcement, raising concerns over the impact it will have on both residents and staff.

UNISON Derbyshire county branch secretary Jeanette Lloyd commented:“Yet again, it’s the most vulnerable in our communities who bear the brunt of council cuts.

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“I want to urge any UNISON member who is affected by this decision to get in touch as soon as possible.

“We will support you every step of the way as you come to terms with the consequences of this decision.”

UNISON East Midlands regional organiser Emma Roberts added: “From the very beginning, we have asked Derbyshire County Council to engage with us on this consultation process and assure care workers that their jobs would be safe.

“However, they have avoided those conversations and have kept hard working carers in the dark.”

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She described the move was a ‘deep cut to public services in Derbyshire’ and expressed concern that this was ‘just the beginning’, as the authority is also currently holding a consultation over adult day care centres across the county.

The report for Cabinet also recommends that members approve the evaluation of each property to outline any ‘potential alternative use’, and note a formal consultation with staff and trade unions will commence with ‘every effort made to assist employees in seeking suitable alternative roles to minimise the number of redundancies’.