Following Hampshire County Council’s proposals to scrap four residential care homes, UNISON has pledged to work with staff and the local community to contest the closures. The Council have proposed closing Nightingale Lodge in Romsey, Cranleigh Paddock in Lyndhurst, Deeside in Basingstoke and Bulmer House, Petersfield. This would see 121 long-term residents moved and 193 staff at risk of redundancy, some of whom were redeployed following previous home closures.
UNISON representatives have already met with staff at each site to seek their views and offer independent guidance. UNISON is actively working with relatives’ groups and has launched a petition against the proposed closures. It is encouraging supporters to take part in the consultation and join the Facebook pages set up by families of the residents; ‘Save Deeside Care Home’ and ‘Save Nightingale Lodge Care Home’. Hampshire residents could also write to their councillors and MPs.
The local authority has already closed at least 6 homes in 7 years, raising concern that adult care services are being run down and privatised. In many instances the private sector care industry has bought and upgraded closed homes previously deemed unsuitable for use by the Council.
Hampshire UNISON deputy branch secretary, 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 are misleading the public by suggesting that there is falling demand for residential care of this nature. This is a smokescreen for cutting services and privatising adult social care.
We are frequently being 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 reserves and seem to have lost sight on the need to deliver quality public services.”
Hampshire UNISON branch secretary, Tim Cutter, said:
“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 someone in such condition is to move them out of their accommodation towards the end of their life, especially if they suffer from dementia.”