THE future of an older people’s residential home in Andover is in doubt as Hampshire County Council looks set to launch a consultation process over its possible closure.

Cherry Orchard is home to older people with physical frailty and can accommodate up to 43 residents. Currently 19 long-stay residents are being cared at the home. The council says it was built in the 1970s for residents who had very different needs and says itsbedrooms are tpp small and corridors narrow.

The council claims that the layout makes it difficult for both people with mobility problems, who use zimmer frames and wheelchairs, and for staff to use the wide variety of equipment the increasingly frail residents require.

The cost of major structural work to the building to support people with high levels of care is estimated to be in excess of £1.7 million. But the council insists that consultation will “ensure residents and their families have every opportunity to give their views and are provided with detailed information on the alternative accommodation available locally”. The county council has two alternative homes in Andover – Copper Beeches, a 36-bed residential home, and Willow Court, a 66-bed nursing home. In addition, it commissions beds in eight other independent homes.

It has also made a significant investment in Extra Care Housing in Andover working closely with Test Valley Borough Council and Synergy Housing. Lion Oak Court has 52 units and Warner Court has 51 units. Extra Care Housing provides vulnerable people with the housing, care and support they need to enable them to remain in a home of their own. If proposals to consult on the closure of Cherry Orchard are agreed, there will be a 13-week consultation period running from May to August. Executive member for adult social care Felicity Hindson said: “Change can be difficult for people, particularly if they are elderly and frail.

“However, it is clear that Cherry Orchard is not able to meet the increasingly complex needs of older people, particularly those with dementia who require care and support in a residential setting.

“I want to stress that no decisions have been made.”

Andover Labour Party has condemned the proposal: “This is a blatant attempt to push through a heartless cost-saving exercise at the expense of vulnerable people and hard-working staff,” said Alan Cotter, Andover Labour Party chairman.