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Agenda item

Review of in-house residential care homes [Key Decision CAS/07/13]

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report of the Corporate Director of Children and Adults Services which reported the outcomes of the consultation carried out from October 2013 to January 2014 on the future of the five in-house residential care homes, and made recommendations on the future of the each of the homes (for copy see file of minutes).

 

The five in-house residential care homes under considerations were:

·         Cheveley House, Belmont

·         Feryemount, Ferryhill

·         Grampian House, Peterlee

·         Mendip House, Chester le Street

·         Newton House, Stanhope

 

Councillor J Armstrong, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board advised that the Board had met on 1 April to consider the consultation process that had been undertaken, and that the Board had accepted the report detailing the process, and agreed the release of the consultation report to members in advance of the Cabinet meeting today.

 

Several members of the public made representations at the meeting against the closure of Newton House at Stanhope.  The representations made included :

 

·               concerns about whether the solutions addressed local needs, referring to  the private home in Stanhope currently having no vacancies:

·               the alternative distances to travel;

·               the democratic decision making process:

·               the views of residents in the consultation exercise appearing to be  disregarded:

·               the provisions and measures to be taken to reduce the risks to sustain the  lives of residents and:

·               human rights.

 

Local members, Councillors J Shuttleworth, and A Savory expressed their disappointment at the proposed closure of the home in Stanhope.  Councillor Shuttleworth advised that a family member was a resident of the home.

The main points made by the Councillors were:

·          that it was unfair to move residents away from Weardale;

·          questioned the duty of care given to the elderly;

·          enquired why the position had changed since 2010 when it was agreed that Newton House should be retained based on its geographical location and lack of suitable alternative provision in the surrounding area.

 

Also making representations were representatives of the GMB and Unison who opposed the closure of all the homes listed in the report. Their questions covered :

·          whether there was finance to maintain the homes;

·          public consultation responses indicating that the homes should be kept open;

·          the move to private care would mean that the terms and conditions of staff would be inferior and there would be a lack of accountability.

 

The GMB representative questioned the lack of consultation, and the maintenance costs to which he requested a breakdown.

 

Cabinet members responded in detail to each of the questions raised.

 

The Leader referred to the representations that had been made by members of the public at the informal public question and answer session prior to the formal business of the meeting, which had been made and responded to.

 

Cabinet members explained the difficult decisions that they were required to make due to the unprecedented levels of funding cuts that had been imposed by central government. The scale of the cuts was explained, including the services that had been reduced, the reduction in the number of jobs in the council, and that there were more difficult decisions yet to come as the level of funding cuts deepen and are considerably harder to find. It was explained that following the decision made in 2010 to keep Newton House open, the financial position of the Authority had changed considerably.

 

Cabinet members advised they were aware of how emotive and sensitive the proposed closure of homes was, and due to the geography and unique character of Weardale the decision to be taken was extremely difficult however had been given much consideration.

 

It was pointed out that Durham had been the only authority in the North East to have continued with the provision of in-house care, with other authorities moving to private care arrangements.

 

Resolved:

 

That the recommendations contained in the report be approved.

 

Supporting documents:

 

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