Meetings on new Kent care home policy

DISTRESSED residents, their families and staff from district care homes facing closure or a sell-off have held emergency meetings.

The first talks – held at Buckland Court in Dover yesterday – were between district and county councillors; the second were for staff and the third for residents and families hit by Kent County Council’s plans to overhaul care for the elderly across the county.

As part of the proposals Wayfarers in Sandwich will be sold to a private care organisation, Sampson Court in Great Mongeham will be shut, and Cornfields in Whitfield will be flattened to make way for 40 independent living flats for people aged 55 and over.

In a bid to revamp the way it caters for older people, and save some £2 million a year, KCC is looking at massive changes to 11 of the 16 care homes it runs across the county.

In Dover district the cuts will affect more than 50 permanent residents, plus scores more who use day care, respite and rehabilitation services. More than 140 staff face losing their jobs. Another 73, at Wayfarers, look likely to be transferred over to whichever body buys the home.

Mum-of-four Diane Glass, from Lydden, says demolishing Cornfields so it can be replaced with sheltered housing could mean her mum Eileen Stringer will find it difficult to stay in her own home.

Retired bakery manager Eileen, 86, has been going to the Cornfields day centre twice a week since her husband’s death three years ago. She has also stayed for rehabilitation care.

Former Aspen Unit worker Diane, 61, said: “My mum’s very upset about it.

“The support from Cornfields makes it easier for mum to stay in her own home. Because she is there two days a week, and at Age Concern one day, we know she is getting proper meals. The rest of the time it is meals on wheels. She is also getting the chance to socialise, which is so important.

“If Cornfields is no longer, there will no longer be the respite care and she will have no back up-care. I don’t know how easy it will be for her to stay at home.”

Diane and her sister Pamela both help care for their mum, and are demanding to know how day and respite care is now going to be provided. They will be among residents, families and staff at the Whitfield home who are due to hold their own meeting this afternoon.

KCC’s cabinet member for adult social services, Graham Gibbens, said: “If the proposal is agreed KCC will work hard, alongside the private and voluntary sector, to provide the day services, respite care and intermediate care that is needed.

“Support will also be provided for staff to help them find employment where possible.”

A consultation on the proposals will run from June 21 until November 1. A final decision is expected in January 2011.

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