By Kit Sandeman, Local Democracy Reporter
A local authority is expected to announce the closure of two of its care homes has been put on hold but released timings for when the rest of theirs will shut.
Next week, Nottinghamshire County Council is expected to approve plans which would see the closure dates for Bishop’s Court in Boughton and James Hince Court in Lindrick delayed until more research is carried out.
Under the proposals, St Michael’s View in Retford would close in March 2019 and Leivers Court in Arnold would shut in 2019.
Woods Court Care Home in Newark is expected to close this month after the Gladstone House Extra Care Home, also in Newark, opened.
The council has already closed one care home and plans to shut its other five in a bid to save £4.346m from its budget.
Kirklands Care Home in Mansfield closed in June 2016 after the opening of the nearby Poppy Fields Extra Care Scheme.
The council say savings of £784,000 have already been made and a further £803,000 will be made this year as it moves towards ‘extra-care’ housing.
Rather than a care home, which houses people with intensive needs, extra care is designed to allow residents a greater degree of independence.
Residents have access to round-the-clock care at their own front door which supporters say can help increase recovery time for older people.
On average extra care is £49 to £91 a week cheaper per person compared to a residential care home.
Councillor Stuart Wallace is the chairman of the committee overseeing the closures and is the Conservative councillor for the Newark East ward.
He said: “The closure of our remaining care and support centres was approved in February 2015 following consultation.
“At this time, a commitment was made to open ‘housing with care’ facilities in the same area to offer an alternative to residential care.
“There will be no closures until alternative accommodation is provided.
“We have a target to double our housing with care places across Nottinghamshire over the next three years from 242 places to 500.”
Cllr Wallace said it is the council’s ‘priority’ to develop these schemes in Retford and Ollerton.
He said: “Housing with care gives people the independence and privacy of having their own home, but with a team of care staff available 24/7 at the touch of a button.
“There are also communal spaces and activities available on site to reduce the risk of social isolation and loneliness.
“There are 24 long term residents in our five remaining care and support centres and we are proposing to work closely with them and their families to arrange suitable alternative accommodation prior to the closure of each centre.
“We are also planning to replace the short term respite and assessment beds we have at the centres by buying these from the independent sector or including them in the housing with care schemes.”
For those who still need more intensive care, the council pays private care homes to provide beds.
However concerns have been raised about the private sector’s capacity to deal with demand at a price the council can afford to pay.
A council report says the independent sector believes it can meet demand if beds are booked in blocks of five ‘however this is not a guarantee the independent sector will subsequently be able to meet the specification requirements at the costs initially indicated’.
A lack of care beds can cause ‘bed blocking’ where patients are medically fit to leave hospital but are unable to because care beds can’t be found.
The report says: “The condition of the care and support centres estate is variable.
“Some environments are no longer fully fit for future purpose and are not an optimal model of modern provision in line with care home design principles of dementia-friendly design.”
The decision to move towards the ‘extra care’ model was taken when Labour were in charge of the council but is now being implemented by the Conservatives who currently run Nottinghamshire County Council.
New national regulations require more space and better facilities in care homes.
The proposals are due to be approved at the Adult Social Care and Public Health Committee on Monday (May 14).