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Six council care homes face closure, all could be sold

PUBLISHED: 14:18 13 October 2010

Unison members and  staff protesting outside Endeavour House against the proposed closures of care homes in Suffolk

Unison members and staff protesting outside Endeavour House against the proposed closures of care homes in Suffolk

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MEMBERS of the county's cabinet have approved proposals to review the operation of council-owned care homes across Suffolk.

Eve Bradley, a resident at Wade House in Stowmarket, is worried about the future of her home

The council is to look at all 16 homes that it operates across the county – and has come up with three options for the future:

Option 1 – Closing the homes and buying in services from the private sector.

Option 2 – Selling off all the homes as going concerns.

Option 3 – Closing six homes and trying to sell off the remaining 10.

The six to be considered for early closure are Lehmann House in Wickham Market, Ixworth Court, in Ixworth, The Dell in Beccles, Wade House in Stowmarket, Davers Court in Bury St Edmunds, and Paddock House in Eye.

County councillor with responsibility for adult care Colin Noble said Suffolk’s continuing priority would be to ensure that its most vulnerable residents got the best possible level of care.

“I shall be going to all the care homes, with senior managers, to meet people concerned and find out what changes people want to see,” he said.

A final decision on the future of the homes will be taken next March once three months of consultations have been completed.

Anne Whybrow, whose Stowmarket division is near Wade House, said she was being “unavoidably parochial” in preparing to fight against any proposals to close that home.

“That is right at the centre of the community and I would beg you to ensure it can be sold as a going concern if it is not possible to retain it as a council home. It is a vital resource for the whole town,” she said.

Members of UNISON in Suffolk protested against the proposed closures outside Endeavour House in Ipswich.

Branch secretary Helen Muddock said: “UNISON is extremely disappointed by the decision today of Suffolk County Council’s cabinet members to start consultation on the future of residential homes in Suffolk – the latest in a very long line of public services to be targeted by the current administration.

“UNISON recognises that although there may be a major financial challenge facing the authority, this approach to close homes and/or transfer them to the private sector is not the right one and places the county’s debts at the feet of the most vulnerable in our society.

“We acknowledge that this is only the start of the process and that the council is pledging to ‘consult’ with residents and their families as well as staff, but UNISON feels it is essential that they also consult with the wider community in Suffolk as we all may need such services in the future.”

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WORRIED residents at one of the under-threat care homes have said they are not “numbers” but people, and that their long-term care should be the main priority.

Eve Bradley, 89, moved to Wade House in Stowmarket, one of six threatened homes, three-and-a-half years ago.

She said the staff at the home did an “exceptional job” and she would be very sad if the site had to close.

“I would have to go and live with my daughter until something else was organised,” she said.

“It would be a frightful upheaval for residents to be shunted about at the wrong time of our lives. It’s a worry.

“I wouldn’t be very happy if I was told this place was to close.

“We are a friendly crowd and we all care for each other and it’s an extremely nice place to live.”

Fellow resident Shirley Mills, 75, has lived at Wade House for more than a year.

She said she wondered what sort of place she would end up in if the site was forced to close.

“I don’t want to go anywhere else,” she said.

“It does worry us sometimes but I try to put it out of my mind for as long as I can.”

The home’s care manager, Karen Curle, said that despite all the uncertainty, which will drag into the New Year, it was “business as usual” at Wade House.

“We have an ongoing programme in the home and that won’t change,” she added.

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