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Future of Derbyshire care homes to be considered

Published: 26 April 2022

Councillors will consider the future of some of our older care homes which need major refurbishment when they meet next week.

It follows a 12-week public consultation asking people for their views on options for the future of 7 ageing homes which need significant repairs including replacing boilers, heating systems, refitting all kitchens and bathrooms, roofing works and installing sprinkler systems.

There is also an urgent need to carry out an invasive rewire in each home by September 2022 which would mean residents would have to move out for up to 40 weeks.

Cabinet will be told at a meeting on Thursday 5 May that even if all the repairs are carried out at a cost of £31million the homes are no longer fit for purpose, do not have the space to use essential equipment and cannot be adapted to provide high-quality care to older people with increasingly complex needs.

They will also hear that COVID-19 has accelerated a reduction in demand for care home places both locally and nationally with more people preferring to remain independent at home with support from the council.

A total of 483 people – including 323 who completed an online questionnaire – responded directly to the council during the consultation into the future of:

  • Ladycross House, Travers Road, Sandiacre
  • 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.

Taking into account the responses received – including a petition signed by 2,001 people – Cabinet will be asked to consider a report which recommends:

  • Approving the permanent closure of the 7 homes and supporting current residents to move to local, suitable and reasonable alternatives for their care or alternative accommodation of their choice
  • Agreeing to further work being undertaken to evaluate any potential alternative use of the sites to help the council deliver its accommodation and support strategy
  • Noting the requirement to consult fully with staff and Trade Unions if the recommendations are agreed and that every effort will be made to assist employees in seeking suitable alternative roles to minimise the number of redundancies.

Councillor Natalie Hoy, Cabinet Member for Adult Care, said:

“I completely understand that this will be unsettling for everyone involved. This is a difficult decision to make and our priority is to the residents, families and staff affected and we are committed to supporting them.

“We’ve listened to people’s views and I understand the concerns raised but the extent of the work needed is significant and in order to ensure the safety of our residents and staff it cannot be carried out with people still living in them and we would need to move residents out for up to 40 weeks.

“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.

“Some of our residents don’t have their own en suites and have to walk down a corridor to use a bathroom and many of the bedrooms are too small and furniture has to be removed before equipment like hoists can be used.

“We also know that demand has fallen with people telling us they want to stay in their own homes with support from us rather than go into residential care.

“Taking this into account together with the fact that there are enough local, suitable alternatives in each area to provide care to those that want it we have to consider whether this significant expenditure would be a good use of public money.”

Even before COVID-19, long-term admissions to residential care homes in Derbyshire dropped by a quarter and during the pandemic this fell a further 20% in 2020/21.

Across Derbyshire almost 40% of care home providers are reporting occupancy rates below 80%.

In a recent survey of clients supported by adult care services, almost 70% said they did not want to go into a care home but overwhelmingly wanted to stay in their own home for as long as possible with the right care and support in place.

Councillor Hoy added:

“If Cabinet agrees the recommendations in this report I’d like to reassure residents and their families that we would fully support them to find local, suitable alternatives which were close to family and friends.

“Our staff would be on hand to make sure any moves went smoothly to alleviate distress to residents and make sure they had everything they needed to make them comfortable in their new accommodation. We would also support residents and their families financially if the decision is made to close homes.

“We would also fully support our staff at what we understand would be a difficult time for them. We value their skills and knowledge and, with an acute shortage of care workers across the county, would do all we could to retain and support them to find suitable, alternative roles if appropriate.”

Read the report