Members of our Cabinet will hear that significant maintenance, renovation and refurbishment is required in 7 of our ageing care homes.
The work needed includes replacing boilers, heating systems, refitting all kitchens and bathrooms, roofing works and installing sprinkler systems. There is also a pressing need for an invasive rewire in each home to be carried out by September 2022.
If the work went ahead residents could face significant disruption as they could have to move out for up to 40 weeks while it was completed and staff would need to be redeployed.
Even if the repairs costing £30 million were carried out, the report to be discussed on Thursday 18 November 2021 says the homes are no longer fit for purpose and do not have the space, facilities or capability to be adapted to provide high quality care for older people with increasingly complex needs. This is due to people going into residential care later which means they are often frailer.
The report adds the pandemic has accelerated a reduction in demand for care home places both locally and nationally with people choosing to receive care at home to remain living independently for longer.
It says that even before COVID-19, long-term admissions to residential care homes in Derbyshire dropped by a quarter. 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 our adult care service, 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.
While demand for our home care services in 2020 rose by 12% with more than 5,200 people a month now receiving support to live at home, compared to 4,500 in 2018.
Taking all this into account Cabinet will be asked to consider consulting on a number of options relating to 7 of its care homes.
The homes are:
- Ladycross House, Travers Road, Sandiacre
- Beechcroft, Nursery Avenue, West Hallam
- East Clune, West Street, Clowne (including East Clune Day Centre)
- Holmlea, Waverley Street, Tibshelf
- The Spinney, Landsdowne Road, Woodlands, Brimington
- Goyt Valley House, Jubilee Street, New Mills
- Gernon Manor, Dagnell Gardens, Bakewell
Councillor Natalie Hoy, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said:
“It is clear that COVID-19 has had a long-lasting impact on the way we all live our lives including for our older residents.
“Although we were already seeing an increasing trend of older people choosing to remain independent rather than going into residential care, the pandemic has put that into even sharper focus.
“We have to review all possible options in relation to these residential homes to ensure that older people live in buildings which are safe, fit for purpose and meet all the required standards to provide them with the best possible care.
“It is necessary to consult again on these proposals as residents could have to move out for a period of up to 40 weeks and staff be redeployed.
“I understand that this will be unsettling but if members of Cabinet agree to consult on the options, no decisions about the future of any of these homes would be made until we’d heard from our residents, their families, staff and our partners and taken their views in to account.
“I’d like to reassure everyone that we would keep an open mind and if any other options were put forward during the consultation for a viable future for these homes then we would of course give full consideration to these too.”
The options councillors are asked to agree to consult on are:
- rewire and carry out major works to refurbish the homes including installing boiler and heating systems, replacing bathrooms and kitchens, removal of any asbestos, the fitting of sprinklers and redecoration. This option would require residents to move out for up to 40 weeks.
- close the homes and support residents to move to other local, suitable alternative provision
- close the homes and support residents to move to any available suitable alternative provision.
A previous consultation into the closure of the seven homes was launched just before the COVID-19 pandemic but after listening to people’s views, Cabinet agreed not to press ahead with the proposals to close any of its homes at that time unless alternative provision was available to meet people’s needs. It agreed to refurbish a further 3 homes and that work is now underway at New Bassett House in Shirebrook, Rowthorne in Swanwick and Briar Close House in Borrowash.
At the meeting next week, councillors will hear there are enough suitable alternative places for current residents.
If after the consultation it was agreed to close any of the homes, we would fully support residents and staff and would look at all possible avenues to provide accommodation which is fit for the 21st century in line with our Older People’s Accommodation and Support Strategy.
Councillor Hoy added:
“Experience tells us that older people no longer want traditional forms of residential care with more staying in their own homes for longer with the right support.
“We are already responding to how people are telling us they want to live by developing a much stronger emphasis on community and housing-based support, as well as new and innovative forms of care for the future.
“We are also working with partners to encourage the creation of more housing with care which allows older people and those with disabilities to lead their life, their way.
“Even if repairs were carried out to these seven homes, these buildings are no longer fit for purpose as they do not have room for essential equipment and don’t have modern facilities like en-suite bathrooms to give our residents the privacy and respect they deserve.
“Where we provide homes we want them to have all the facilities we’d expect for our own families such as our new Ada Belfield Centre in Belper which is modern, spacious and has been built to the latest dementia-friendly standards.”
If Cabinet agrees the consultation proposals, Derbyshire residents would have 12 weeks to give their views from 22 November 2021.
As care home residents are most vulnerable to COVID-19, public meetings would not be held in care homes.
Direct consultation would be carried out with residents, relatives and staff and the public would also be able to fill in the consultation online or request a paper questionnaire to fill in and return by post.
Councillor Hoy added:
“I understand that these proposals will be concerning but doing nothing isn’t an option and whatever the decision we will fully support our residents, their families and our staff throughout.”
There are currently 68 long-term residents in the 7 care homes, supported by 240 staff.