Extra residential care home to be set up in Bristol
PLANS to close council-run care homes and day services in Bristol have been reconsidered by a group of councillors.
An extra residential home will be run by the council in partnership with an external organisation under the proposals, which have been approved by mayor George Ferguson.
Mr Ferguson called for the panel, with a member from each of the political parties represented in the council chamber, to reconsider unpopular proposals made in the summer to close eight council care homes and seven day care services.
Their recommendations see the closures of care homes to permanent residents going ahead.
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But a scheme which would have seen two homes – Brentry House in Brentry and Greville in Stockwood – being refurbished by an external organisation, working in partnership with the council to run them as residential homes for people with dementia, will now be expanded to include a third home.
The cross-party group, made up of Lesley Alexander (Con, Frome Vale), Tess Green (Green, Southville), Glenise Morgan (Lib Dem, Henleaze) and Jenny Smith (Lab, Southmead) also agreed to proposals for day care services but said they would need to be revisited in 2014.
The council said the third home would be purpose-built at a location which has yet to be decided. Work is continuing on tendering for partner organisations for all three homes.
The original plans were made after the city council said there had been a decline in the number of people using its care homes, instead opting for sheltered housing. Coombe care home closed before Christmas, and Hayleigh in Bedminster and residential beds in Westleigh in St George – which will be used for rehabilitation – are set to close by the end of March.
The cross-party group said the council should try to attract more extra care housing schemes to the city. They said the mayor should lobby the government for the regulatory powers currently carried out by the Care Quality Commission to be brought back to the local authority, as well as bringing in charters and quality marks to ensure care home services in the city run by other providers are of the highest quality.
The group accepted a recommendation for three day care "hubs" to replace existing day care centres in the city. They believed these services would meet demand but more work would need to be done next year to ensure there were enough services to support people with disabilities.
Day care services should also be better linked with neighbourhood partnerships and local communities, the group said, adding that specialist transport should be made available to help people reach the hubs.
They also felt there should be transparent contingency plans in place to ensure residents would be appropriately supported if there was an issue with services.
Mr Ferguson said: "The cross-party group has worked swiftly and efficiently to review the complex and controversial set of decisions taken last year by the previous Cabinet on the future of residential and daycare services.
"I strongly believe that councillors working in this way is productive and beneficial to effective decision making. I am very happy to accept all the panel's recommendations."
Chairwoman of the Bristol Older People's Forum, Judith Brown, welcomed the announcement of a third dementia care home being built but was disappointed changes were not made to the day care proposals.
"I'm pleased there is going to be another dementia care home because I think the need is going to be there but I feel sad there is still going to be the closure, as it will mean losing a lot of dedicated staff, experience and knowledge," she said.
"The concerns I have had from people about the closure of day centres is that they wanted to keep them and that hasn't stopped them closing. I am not sure about the hubs – how far people will have to travel and whether they will be able to stay with their groups of friends."
Ms Brown said she did feel it was positive that councillors from different parties had worked together.
Labour panel member Mrs Smith told The Post that not everything raised in the meetings had made the final cut.
The member for Southmead would have liked to have seen a contingency plan – possibly involving emergency beds – drawn up if there are any problems with the private or in-house care in future. She would have liked to have seen firm plans about safeguarding, to ensure the quality of care given is of a high enough standard and she would like to see a disabled and older people's charter drawn up for the city.
Mrs Smith said: "Although it looks from the outside that we all agreed 100 per cent, there were actually other areas I would have liked to have seen covered. This is very important for the future – these are our people and we need to look after them."