Proposal to close local care homes ‘is a smokescreen for cutting services’, says union

Hampshire council is proposing to close some of its residential care homes due to declining demand, but Unison says it will work with staff and local people to fight the closures.

Picture credit: Paul Brown/Rex Features

Unison has vowed to fight plans to shut four Hampshire care homes for older people that have 186 staff and 146 beds.

Hampshire council is consulting on closing Bulmer House in Petersfield, Cranleigh Paddock in Lyndhurst, Deeside in Basingstoke and Nightingale Lodge in Romsey, which it intends to replace with extra care assisted living services.

A day centre based at Cranleigh Paddock will also be shut if the proposal goes ahead.

The council cited declining demand for residential care – as opposed to care and support with independent living – and the need to save money as the main reasons behind the decision.

It says the homes need modernisation, but this work would cost more than £10m and reduce bed numbers to a financially unviable level.

The extra care services would be based on the same sites except in the case of Deeside, which would be sold off to help fund the development of extra care.

If the proposal goes ahead, staff in the homes will be offered voluntary redundancy or redeployment elsewhere in the authority. The council expects to save £2.37m a year from 2014-15.

But Unison have said they intend to work with staff and local people to fight the closures.

“The Conservative-led council are misleading the public by suggesting that there is falling demand for residential care homes of this nature,” said Unison spokeswoman Jan Matthews.

“This is a smokescreen for cutting services and privatising adult social care. We are frequently being told by care managers and social workers that homes listed for closure cannot accommodate further residents and that there is a bed block.”

The council papers setting out the rationale for the closures state that the number of people in residential care has declined 4% over the last two years, while the number of people receiving personal domiciliary care and support work has risen 13% over the past five years.

Hampshire’s public consultation on the proposals ends on 18 October.

Unison warning on Northern Irish care homes

Unison has also accused health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland of continuing to press ahead with plans to close NHS residential care homes, despite health minister Edwin Poots telling the Northern Ireland Assembly that the process had been stopped.

According to Unison, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust has not accepted any long-term admissions to its homes in the past year, despite referring 192 elderly people to private homes in the same period.

It also says the trust is preparing to close Rathmoyle Home in Ballycastle and that the Belfast trust has drawn up plans to shut Chestnut Grove Residential Home and Pine Lodge Home.

A spokeswoman for the health and social care board said: “The board has submitted its plan regarding the future provision of statutory residential care homes to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for consideration and approval. When it has been approved, the board will make an announcement. The board will not be making any further comments in the meantime.”

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