£13m care home revamp upheaval for OAP residents

ELDERLY residents at a Carmarthenshire care home look likely to be uprooted for more than two years after plans to rebuild their accommodation were announced this week.

Argel Care Home in Johnstown is in a poor condition according to staff and suffered recent flooding which forced its basement to be closed.

Now the county council, which owns the building, has revealed it is poised to demolish it as early as March and replace it with a new £13million facility twice its size. This would open in 2015.

“We have been told it will be a flagship building which Carmarthen can be proud of,” said Evan Davies, chairman of the Argel League of Friends at its AGM on Monday. “They should be winding down Argel from September.”

The home has been under threat of closure for years, with the council coming under pressure to improve the ailing structure. The new plans are for a 64-bed home, including 12 dementia care apartments and a 25-place day centre. It would also replace another Johnstown home, Cartref Tawelan.

While the new home at Argel is being built, residents could either be moved to Tawelan, or Towy Castle, a care home five miles south of Carmarthen.

Alun Lenny, Plaid Cymru county councillor for the area, was also at the meeting. He is on the county’s planning committee so cannot comment on applications — but he said he understood the residents’ families favoured the move.

“The council is confident there will be sufficient provision to re-house residents in neighbouring homes,” he told the meeting. “People will be relocated to homes for the best part of two-and-a-half years and some may not even want to come back if they are closer to their families.”

Mr Lenny and fellow Plaid ward councillor, Jeff Thomas, told the AGM they recently met with Bruce McLernon, the council’s director of social care, health and housing. Both councillors said they were told another possible site for the new build, in Ammanford, was no longer being considered.

“But we need that in writing: that the home will be in Carmarthen,” Mr Thomas said.

Council officers are now talking to staff and residents about the move. This, said a council spokeswoman, would shape a formal planning application to be submitted in September for two care homes: the one at Argel in Carmarthen, and one in Ammanford to replace the Tegfan and Glanmarlais homes.

In a statement, Mr McLernon, who was not at the meeting, said the plan was part of a programme to modernise care in the county.

“We have been pleased with the response of residents, their families, staff and local members who have been supportive of our plans to develop the new Carmarthen scheme on the existing Argel site,” he said.

It will be discussed by county executives on Monday.