Council all set to axe care homes

THE axe is set to fall on the last four council-run care homes in Barnsley when council and health officials meet today.

Monday, 15th October 2007, 8:51 am
Updated Monday, 15th October 2007, 10:43 am

The Joint Agency Group will almost certainly wave the cost-cutting recommendations through - paving the way for the plans to be rubberstamped by cabinet and full council.

The proposals will anger more than 7,000 people who signed petitions against the closure of Green Park House in Penistone, Oakwood in Royston, Highfield Grange in Wombwell and Greenside House in Staincross

Unison and GMP union reps claimed the plans were motivated by budget pressures and not the needs of pensioners. They also argued staff were happier in council homes because they had a fraction of the turnover of the private sector.

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Penistone mayor Joe Unsworth said a consultation period was 'window dressing' for a decision that had already been made. He added: "It seems deliberate that they have run this place into the ground to make it easier to close than to do up. They just don't listen to what people have to say - no one in the area wanted this."

Fred Harston, secretary of Royston TARA, added: "They have not taken public feeling into account. It is catastrophic."

The plans were sparked by the need to find savings of 3.5million in adult social care over the next three years. Barnsley Council and the Primary Care Trust say it is 116 a week cheaper for a pensioner to be kept in a privately-run home than a council home and it would cost a further 2 million to bring the four council homes up to required standards.

A report for the Joint Agency Group states only 15 people live in the four homes which will close, while some 1,070 are supported by public funding in independent sector homes. A further 7000 people are supported to live in the community.

The report adds: "While the homes were fit for purpose when they were built, they do not meet modern standards. The status quo is not sustainable.

"Council-run residential care is expensive and the buildings do not meet modern standards. If the closure proposals are not taken forward, other savings would need to be made which would mean taking away services from many people. No one consulted wanted to go down that road.

Under the proposals Highfield Grange and Greenside House will be converted into respite and convalescence. Their day centres will remain opens. Highgate Day Centre in Goldthorpe, which was also at risk of closure, has been given a reprieve.