Hampshire County Council agree to close care homes to save cash

TEN care centres for adults are to be closed or merged in a cost-cutting move by Hampshire County Council.

A decision by councillor Felicity Hindson to shut or merge six respite centre, three residential care homes and a crisis centre in West Street, Havant, is set to save the council £697,000.

Cllr Hindson, in charge of adult social care, agreed to the package of measures following a three-month public consultation.

She said the changes will improve services across the county.

But some relatives of service users believe the new services will be worse than the ones currently in place.

Alistair Iverson, 53, from Heathfield Avenue in Fareham, helps care for his 51-year-old brother Graeme, who has Down’s Syndrome.

They regularly use Croft House, a Fareham respite centre in Redlands Lane.

The council has originally planned to close Croft House altogether. But this proposal was heavily criticised by service users during the public consultation period.

Under the new plan the 12-bed Croft House Centre will be replaced by a six-bed centre in Fareham or Gosport.

The centre will be merged with Highfield House in Eastleigh.

Mr Iverson said: ‘We were very clear that six bedrooms was not enough. We are happy that the original plan to close Croft House completely has been dropped, but we can’t see how halving the number of beds and merging two services will provide the service Graeme and other users need.’

Cllr Hindson said: ‘There are some savings that we have had to make, but we believe we are also improving the service we offer.

‘This is because many of the buildings we use are no longer fit for purpose. We are doing this more efficiently but that does not mean that services will suffer.’

Alongside the proposal for Croft House several residential care homes across the county face mergers or closure.

But a centre for people with complex care needs at Locks Heath and Orchard Close Respite Centre in Hayling Island, both of which will remain open, received special praise from councillor Hindson. She said: ‘The Locks Heath centre is a new centre and provides services in a way we hope to repeat across the county, whilst Orchard Close offers several advantages for respite care, particularly its position close to the beach. We hope each of our care centres can be situated much closer to town centres than the ones we have at present, because this means it is much easier for people staying there and those looking after them to take them out.’