Decision taken over borough and county care homes

Published on: Friday, 6th May 2022

Derbyshire County Council Cabinet has agreed to permanently close seven Derbyshire County Council care homes including two in Erewash, which require major refurbishment to bring them up to modern care standards.

The decision follows a public consultation on future options for the 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. 

At a meeting held on Thursday 5th May, councillors were told that even if all the repairs costing around £31m are carried out, 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 also heard that COVID-19 had 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.

Cabinet agreed to permanently close the homes and to support current residents to move to local, suitable and reasonable alternatives for their care or alternative accommodation of their choice. 

The homes which will close by September 2022 are Ladycross House, Travers Road, Sandiacre, and Beechcroft, Nursery Avenue, West Hallam as well as five other sites in North Derbyshire.

Cabinet also noted that consultation will be carried out with staff and Trade Unions to support employees to find suitable alternative roles to minimise redundancies.

It was also agreed to carry out further work to evaluate any potential alternative use of the sites to help the council deliver its accommodation and support strategy.

Councillor Natalie Hoy, Cabinet Member for Adult Care, said: “This has been an incredibly difficult decision and not one we have made lightly.

“We understand how upsetting this has been for everyone involved but our priority has always been for the safety and well-being of our residents, their families and our staff.

“We listened to people’s views but carrying out the work - including an invasive rewire at each home - with people still living in them simply wasn’t viable.

“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 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.

“The people of Derbyshire deserve better and we will continue to work to deliver high quality facilities for our residents.”

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: “I’d like to reassure residents and their families that we will fully support them to find local, suitable alternatives which are close to their loved ones and friends.

“Our staff will make sure the moves go smoothly to alleviate distress to residents and make sure they have everything they needed to make them comfortable in their new accommodation. 

“In supporting residents to find alternative accommodation, we will provide financial support to them and their families if required as well as paying travel expenses to enable them to continue to visit their loved ones.

“We value the commitment and expertise of our staff and wherever possible will seek to find alternative employment for them within the council which, like other authorities, is experiencing a shortage of trained care workers.”

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