Solihull may face injunction

    Solicitors acting for three care home residents have issued
    judicial review proceedings last week against Solihull Council over
    plans to close one of its residential care homes.

    Pat Sanderson, whose father-in-law is one of three residents
    heading the action against the council’s plans to close Lyndon
    Croft Residential Home, has accused the council of basing its
    opinion of the home’s viability on early drafts of the new national
    minimum standards for care homes for older people.

    Pointing out that the final standards were not published until
    March 2001, and that draft care home regulations came out only last
    month, Sanderson said: “They made the decision in April, and had
    been talking about it since January. We believe Solihull has jumped
    the gun.”

    Solicitor Alastair Wallace, who is acting on behalf of the three
    residents, is confident that the courts will grant leave for
    judicial review within the next two months. He confirmed that, if
    the council failed to put closure plans on hold in the meantime, he
    would also be forced to seek an injunction.

    “It’s very Draconian to close a home when it’s not clear just
    how this care standard regime is going to pan out,” Wallace

    “The argument in Lyndon Croft is to what extent do you apply
    these standards. If not every room meets the standards, do you
    close it down? What if all the residents and relatives like it, it
    is a good home, and it has other areas of space?”

    Wallace, of Tyndallwoods Solicitors, said the incoming National
    Care Standards Commission, which will be responsible for regulating
    and inspecting care homes from April 2002, must not act in a
    “completely mechanistic” way.

    He said the Department of Health had already implied a certain
    degree of flexibility by acknowledging in the draft regulation
    document that the NCSC would “take account of the standards” when
    enforcing regulations but “may also take into account any other
    factors it considers reasonable or relevant to do so”.

    A regulatory impact assessment on the new regulations for care
    homes for older people will also be carried out to determine “the
    balance between expected costs to providers and the benefits for
    service users and their carers of ensuring quality care”.

    Solihull Council’s solicitor Michael Blamier-Brown said the
    council had not been served any papers as yet but it would
    carefully consider the points made in them when it was.

    “The view of the council has been all along that the only option
    for Lyndon Croft is for it to be closed so it can be replaced by a
    brand new facility.”

    And he added: “The council has given an important undertaking to
    residents that they can come back to any new home built on the

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