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Unions launch petition to save care home
UNIONS have launched a petition to save a Romsey care home from closure.
Unison and Unite have stepped up its fight against Hampshire County Council’s proposals to axe four care homes, including Romsey’s Nightingale Lodge, which has some residents aged over 100.
The union claims that the proposed closures of Nightingale Lodge, Cranleigh Paddock, at Lyndhurst, Bulmer House, in Petersfield and Deeside, Basingstoke, will put 193 jobs at risk and see 121 residents, many with dementia, moved to unfamiliar surroundings.
County adult social care chiefs are planning to replace all but Deeside with privately-operated sheltered accommodation, which the authority describes as “extra care housing” facilities. The Basingstoke home will be sold off and the profits ploughed back into “extra care”.
Council officials claim it would cost more than £10m to modernise the homes, all built between the 1960s and early 1980s, while at the same time demand for residential care is falling, as more people want to remain in their own homes.
A 12-week public consultation on the proposals began at the end of July and a final decision on the future of all four homes is expected in November.
Unison believes Nightingale Lodge should be upgraded, not demolished. Hampshire Unison spokeswoman, Jan Matthews, said: “The residents of these homes are cherished family members who want their end-of-life care plans and human rights to be honoured and respected.
“The Conservative-led council is misleading the public by suggesting that there is a fall in demand for residential care of this nature.
“We are frequently told by care managers and social workers that homes listed for closure cannot accommodate further residents and that there is a bed block.
“Life expectancy has risen, so demand on elderly care provision will increase. The council has amassed £418 million in reserves and seems to have lost sight on the need to deliver quality public services.”
Hampshire’s Unison branch secretary, Tim Cutter, warned the proposals could be detrimental to the health of residents forced to move elsewhere.
Mr Cutter added: “These closures mean residents, many in their 80s and 90s and physically frail, will have to move from a place they originally chose to live in.
“One of the most dangerous and disruptive things you could do to something in such condition is to move them out of their accommodation towards the end of their life, especially if they suffer from dementia.”
Jillian Baker, whose mother has dementia and Alzheimer’s and is being cared for at Nightingale Lodge, said the council hadn’t thought its plans through.
“They (residents) do not need bigger rooms, en-suite, lifting equipment in every room, or wider corridors. It is what happens in the home that matters and is the key. This is the residents’ home now and they are very happy and settled there,” said Mrs Baker, who lives at King’s Somborne.
“Assisted-living flatlets have a role, but they are no use in the later stages of illness, as their living style does not cater for all their care needs unless they have a husband/wife with them to provide care 24/7, including the social care side of their needs.”
Mrs Baker said she had visited Fleming House, Eastleigh, which has been suggested as an alternative to Nightingale Lodge for residents unable to move to extra-care accommodation and claimed there was little difference between the two.
She said Nightingale Lodge had the advantage because it had a GP surgery on its doorstep.
Hampshire’s cabinet spokesperson for adult social services, Anna McNair Scott, stressed that a decision on Nightingale Lodge’s long-term future had not yet been made.
“We take the decision to consult on the future of the home very seriously and all views from the consultation will be given careful consideration before any further decision is taken.
“The consultation on the closure of these homes is in no way a reflection of our care staff.
“It is a response to the challenges facing the council in terms of meeting the current and future needs of an ageing population, many of whom have increasingly complex care needs – and at the same time, wish to maintain their independence for as long as possible.
“Continuing to do what we have done in the past will not be sustainable, so Hampshire County Council needs to respond to these trends.”
She added: “With shrinking resources, we need to ensure that services are sustainable and cost-effective now, and in the future.”
County council chiefs have organised two meetings for relatives with family members at Nightingale Lodge and people with direct links to the residential home.
These will be on August 27, between 2.30pm and 7pm, at Woodley Village Hall and again on September 18.
Both meetings have to be prebooked and will be attended by senior county council managers, care managers and social workers. To book a spot, call Bianca Hurst on 01962 845692 or 01962 841841.
Petition forms have been placed in shops, including Latimer News and Paper Chain, by the unions, Unison and Unite. There is also a Facebook campaign, Help Save Nightingale Lodge, launched by relatives of the residents.
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