Outcry over Warwickshire care home closure plans

PLANS to close up to ten Warwickshire council-run care homes have come under attack.

County councillors joined the public in voicing concerns about frail and vulnerable residents if they are forced to move.

Many also said more privatisation could harm the quality of care in future for an expanding elderly population with the private sector undercutting wages for care workers.

Adult social care bosses and ruling Tory councillor Izzi Seccombe insist the changes are as much about “modernising” services as helping slash their department’s budget by £22m in response to government cuts.

More people say they want to live at home longer, and “extra care housing” flats are preferred for independent living – except for those with high level needs such as severe dementia.

But council bosses faced a barrage of criticism at a packed meeting of the adult social care scrutiny committee yesterday.

All ten county council-run care homes could close – unless staff and communities step in to run them as co-operatives or social enterprises, or joint ventures are formed with private firms.

Adult services directors said invitations to communities to run social enterprises had so far drawn a blank with the exception of grassroots plans for The Lawns in Whitnash. Two care homes – Abbotsbury in Rugby, and Mayfield in Bedworth – would be the first to close.

Opponents say day centres and respite services offered by some residential homes are also at risk.

Several demanded council leaders pledge to keep all ten homes open until suitable quality alternatives are available – which bosses say they want to achieve.

Kate Morrison, of Warwickshire Community And Voluntary Action told councillors not enough had been done to encourage staff and communities to form co-operatives or social enterprises.

Frances French, of Shipston Hospitals League of Friends, which fundraises for Low Furlong care home in Shipston-on-Stour, joined councillors in fearing many residents with dementia would suffer from a move away from their home and friends.

She said: “We know they’ve got to make savings but they always hit the vulnerable who can’t answer back. It’s easier than closing a library.”

John Wheeler, of Shipston-on-Stour Medical Centre, said the care home provided the only “essential” local service for a rural elderly population.

Labour councillor Richard Chattaway said people had heard “horror stories” about private care homes. Lib Dem councillor Jerry Roodhouse and Labour leader councillor June Tandy criticised the “poor” public consultation – mainly with residents who are opposed to closures, not the wider public.