Fears As Care Home Faces Axe

A nursing home that helps hospitals cope with the pressure of bed blocking could be forced to close. West Sussex County Council will decide whether to launch a consultation into the possible closure of Burscroft Nursing Home, in Pond Road, Shoreham. The home has recently been used to rehabilitate elderly people following surgery so their hospital beds can be released for other patients. Patients stay for up to six weeks until they are ready to return home.

But councillors said the care home, although providing an invaluable service, may have to close as it struggles with new EU regulations and tightening finances.

Pat Arculus, cabinet member for adult services, said: “If more people choose to stay in their own homes we have to balance their needs with those of people in care homes, within a restrictive budget. There isn’t enough money being put in for elderly people, especially in the South where we have so many. The Government isn’t taking that into account. The long-term future of Burscroft was never to stay open because a new home is due to be built on the old Southlands site.”

Five permanent residents would be looking for a new home if the Burscroft facility closes, although it is capable of accommodating 25 people.

It would be the 12th care home in and around the Brighton and Hove area to shut its doors since January 1, 2006.

Families said patients at nearby hospitals would also be affected by any closure. Kim Coomber, of South Farm Road, Worthing, said her 87-year-old mother Marian Peacock recently stayed at the home after a knee replacement and would not have made such a good recovery without it.

Mrs Coomber said: “It would be appalling if it closed down. I think it has been the most fantastic innovation. Elderly people who have an anaesthetic, irrespective of the operation, take a long time to recover so they need help but not days in a hospital. My mother got fantastic support from carers, nursing staff, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. It gave her time to get back on her feet again. It was an absolute blessing and saved money because she wasn’t needing carers to come into her home three times a day.”

Since 2004, 60 care homes have closed in East Sussex and Brighton and Hove with a loss of 700 beds.

A new, privately run facility to be built next to Southlands Hospital, will have room for 60 beds but will not be up and running until 2008.

Coun Arculus said: “There will be no reduction in respite or remedial care whether it’s in Burscroft or not. The staff do a very good job. But there’s not a shortage of homes as far as I’m aware and there certainly won’t be in 2008. Whatever happens my main concern is not to frighten elderly people but the building is not fit for purpose. The rooms are very small and many aren’t en suite. Although they are providing an invaluable service the home is not what you would expect in the 21st Century.”