In less than 30 minutes, the Conservative cabinet unanimously agreed to close Bohanam House in Gloucester, Orchard House in Bishops Cleeve, The Elms in Stonehouse and Westbury Court in Westbury-on-Severn, forcing more than 80 residents out of their care homes.
Included in those who voted for the closure of these homes was the new cabinet member of Public Health, who personally handed in a petition from more than 540 people opposed to the closure of The Elms in his own division of Stonehouse.
The cabinet said it approved the recommendation after considering feedback from the recent six-week consultation with residents, their relatives and staff as well as the results of engagement with the local care market.
But the opposing Liberal Democrats said the consultation uncovered great concern that residents would significantly deteriorate if forcibly moved and that close friendships would be broken up with the closure of the homes. This feedback was included in today’s cabinet report, but made no change to the recommendations approved.
Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Liberal Democrat group spokesperson for Public Protection and Adult Social Care, said: “We are extremely concerned about Cabinet’s decision to close the four homes, including Bohanam House in my own Gloucester Division. It became clear, under questioning, that the Cabinet’s decision was led by a desire to protect the private market, at a cost to our publicly run homes. This comes in spite of the consistently high occupancy of all four care homes prior to the pandemic and the good ratings from the Care Quality Commission.
“More than 2,000 residents, family members and staff petitioned against these care home closures yet this, along with all the consultation feedback, has counted for nothing at today’s meeting.
“It is a continuation of this administration’s history of pulling out of public sector provision, which will eventually make us completely reliant upon privately run homes. We should be using our public sector homes to drive up standards across the market of care, not simply rolling over and allowing the privately run businesses to run us out of town.”
Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “Taking the decision to close someone’s home is never easy but, having considered all the information in front of us, it was the right one to make. Understandably the wider market conditions and issues are less important to the residents and families of these homes, but they are matters we must address in fulfilling our duty to support a stable and effective local care market.
“I know residents in these homes will be anxious about the future, but our dedicated social care staff will use all their skills and knowledge to minimise disruption for the residents of these homes. Thank you to everyone who took part in the consultation and market engagement.
“It important to remember that part of today’s decision was to invest in new, purpose-built facilities in areas of the county that need them most, helping to ensure care provision in Gloucestershire meets the needs of residents for the years ahead. Work will begin soon to ensure these plans are progressed.”
Any decision to call-in the care homes closure would need to be completed within five working days of yesterday, June 23.