Blaenau Gwent OAPs set to lose homes

MORE than 50 elderly residents are set to lose their homes under a controversial shake-up of care services in Blaenau Gwent.

The process of closing Tredegar’s Cartref Aneurin Bevan will begin next month and Crawshay House in Brynmawr is expected to follow during 2012 – if council chiefs give proposals the green light.

The closures are part of a scheme to encourage elderly people to live independently by closing four of the county borough’s five council-owned care homes.

The scheme was approved in November 2006, despite a public outcry and campaign against the plans, and Nantyglo’s Hafod Dawel and Ebbw Vale’s Plas y Coed closed during the past three years.

Under the proposals, Cartref Aneurin Bevan’s 25 residents would begin moving out in September with the home fully closed by the following September.

A timescale for the 26 residents at Crawshay House has yet to be drawn up, but the process of closure would begin in early 2012.

The council will encourage residents to move into new flats built under the council’s £12 million Extra Care Sheltered Housing scheme – which includes 41 flats shortly to open in Ebbw Vale, 45 flats currently under construction in Nantyglo and a round-the-clock care team.

An authority spokesman said: “In the past few years there has been a decline in the number of older people wanting traditional residential care.

“Instead, more people are telling us they want to remain in their own homes with the support they need provided by our community-based services.”

Closing the homes would also address issues of surplus bedrooms and the cost of bringing buildings up to scratch.

There are currently 13 vacancies at Cartref Aneurin Bevan, which would cost £212,000 to refurbish, and two at Crawshay House, which needs £81,000-worth of refurbishment works.

The authority said it could not rule out compulsory redundancies for the 44 permanent and 44 part-time staff at Cartref Aneurin Bevan and 31 permanent staff at Crawshay House, but it aims to re-deploy them into similar services.

The proposals will be discussed by the council’s special social care and inclusion scrutiny committee tomorrow before a recommendation is made to the executive next month.
AM impressed over care

Blaenau Gwent AM Trish Law said that although she was bitterly opposed to the decision in 2006, she has since visited local extra-care developments and been impressed with the support on hand and privacy provided.

She said: “My only fear, and one I expressed at the time of the debate on the closure of the four residential homes, is that support services may have to be pared back given the warning of severe public service cuts ahead.

“That would be very unfortunate as a high level of support is essential to the independent living concept.”