Words: Richard Beecham
A senor councillor says Leeds City Council ‘hasn’t listened’ over plans to close Richmond House Short Stay Residential Care Home in Farsley due to budget cuts.
Plans to shut down both Home Lea House Long Stay Residential Care Home in Rothwell; and Richmond House are set to go before Leeds City Council’s decision-making executive board next week.
A report by Leeds City Council officers claims the closures would contribute annual savings of £1.531m to the council’s £118.8m budget gap for 2021/22. It added the decision would allow the council to meet its legal requirement to be financially stable, and has insisted that residents will be looked after.
But Coun Andrew Carter, leader of Leeds City Council’s Conservatives group, says the decision shows the council simply isn’t listening to people.
Coun Carter, who represents the Calverley and Farsley ward where Richmond House is located, said:
“I am very disappointed that the council haven’t listened to the views of residents of Farsley and the surrounding area and are going ahead with the closure.
“This yet again proves that consultations from Leeds City Council are a farce and a foregone conclusion. I note the vague commitment to support elderly people’s housing on the site which we will obviously pursue, but what the council have done is to remove any council-run facility for respite care in the west of the city.
“This administration simply doesn’t take any notice of the views of the public, it’s not acceptable.”
Home Lea House is a 29-bed long-stay residential home in Rothwell – it currently houses 18 residents and has a gross annual budget of £789,000. The council’s other care home in Rothwell is Dolphin Manor, which the report claims is under occupied.
Richmond House is a 20-bed residential service in Farsley. It offers short term care and support to people who require convalescence following a hospital
admission. Council officers say average occupancy since 2018/19 is 55 per cent and its gross budget is £742,000.
The results of the council’s own consultations on the plans stated:
“Residential care is described by many as ‘their home’ and the staff are seen as ‘their family’. There is clearly a feeling of anger, sadness, and distress by the proposals to decommission the homes.
“Many people have said the proposals are unfair and that the council does not have the interests of older people at heart, that the financial savings should be found elsewhere, and the homes should be retained as well respected high quality care provision in their local communities.”
But the report, set to go before members of Leeds City Council’s Executive Board, recommends councillors approve the closures. With Richmond House expected to be decommissioned by November this year, Home Lea House by February 2022.
The document stated:
“The council has many priorities to meet the needs of its citizens but given the outlined challenging financial context for local authorities, the Council unfortunately has insufficient funding to meet all of these.
“The proposals will not reduce or remove the care of our most vulnerable people now or in the future; the proposals are principally based upon insufficient demand for our residential beds and therefore providing the same service at a reduced overall cost which in turn helps the Council deliver more of its citizens’ needs.
“If a decision is made to close the two care homes, the transfer of residents will be carefully planned and carried out professionally, sensitively, and safely, in accordance with the Council’s Care Guarantee.
“Those who use the homes for planned respite will be supported to ensure this provision can be continued in a new location suitable to meet the individual’s needs. The programme will continue to work closely with all affected staff and Trade Unions with a view to retaining and redeploying staff into other council services, so their good practice is retained.”
Councillors will discuss the report at an Executive Board meeting on Wednesday, June 23.
West Leeds Dispatch‘s Cutswatch series has been following the proposed cuts over the past few months here.
Follow WLD’s coverage of the proposed Richmond House closure here.