Council chiefs agree over Llanelli care home ‘privatisation’

COUNCIL chiefs have agreed St Paul’s care home in Llanelli should shut in what opponents called a “bitter wind of change”.

Only an unexpected rebellion by Independent or Labour councillors when full council is asked to ratify the decision could stop the home closing now Carmarthenshire Council’s executive board has recommended it go.

But the executive board did give more time to the larger Caemaen home, agreeing to keep it open while the option of handing the home over to an independent care provider was pursued.

Council chiefs argue success at enabling more people to stay in their own homes longer means there are now too many empty care home spaces and the council faces higher costs providing for those who do need care who suffer from more complex conditions, such as dementia.

Council leader Meryl Gravell said: “We have too many care homes. We are wasting a million pounds of taxpayers’ money and we haven’t got sufficient elderly mentally infirm places for these people.”

And she said more modern places were needed that allowed everyone the same quality of room.

But Stephanie Williams, secretary of campaign group Residents Against Care Home Closures, called the recommendations to close St Paul’s and “privatise” Caemaen care homes “a bitter wind of change”.

Mrs Williams accepted change was needed to meet the increasing costs of elderly care but said it was necessary to take a measured view for people who cannot look after themselves.

“We cannot allow them to be left lonely, frightened or waiting for hours for food, a drink, to be washed or to be got out of their bed in their own homes because of a lack of money,” she said.

The two sides have also clashed over the number of empty care home beds and “transfer trauma”.

Councillor Pat Jones, executive board member for social care, has claimed people were “forming their opinions without being fully aware of the current situation” and has accused the campaign group of putting out misleading information about the number of empty bed spaces in Llanelli.

Mrs Jones said the council can accommodate St Paul’s residents.

Mrs Williams said it was “insulting to these elderly people to dismiss their anxieties” and suggested the council appeared to be counting vacancies at St Paul’s and Caemaen when calculating empty beds.

The council says it has 19 empty spaces in Llanelli and there are 30 empty beds in the independent sector.

It later confirmed all its empty beds were at Caemaen and St Paul’s, 16 of them at St Paul’s and three at Caemaen.