Relatives join forces to lobby against closure of care homes
A CAMPAIGN group has been launched to fight council proposals to close 20 care homes.
Relatives and opposition politicians hope their Derbyshire Care Homes Campaign will persuade the county council to backtrack on its £200 million shake-up of its adult care offer.
The Tory-led authority, which has already begun closing homes, wants to replace them with 1,600 specialist extra-care flats for the elderly across the county.
The council says the new apartments are being built within five miles of every current home it owns and dementia beds available within 10 miles.
Councillor Charles Jones, cabinet member for adult care, says the move is necessary to improve living standards and increase capacity, as the elderly population in Derbyshire is set to double by 2030.
But campaigners say the Tory-run council's strategy will not work and force elderly into private care homes, where some relatives argue profit is prioritised over care standards.
In a bid to lobby the council into a U-turn, campaigners seeking to save Briar Close care home in Borrowash and Beechcroft in West Hallam have now joined forces.
With the help of a group of Labour politicians, they have formed a group and are inviting those against closure of other homes to join.
Helen Clark, chairwoman of the Erewash Labour Local Government Committee, said: "We are stronger together as a campaign than we are singularly."
At the group's first meeting, members agreed to start a petition, send letters to council leaders, lobby local MPs to speak in parliament on the issue and organise a public meeting.
Group member Gill Ferguson, 66, whose 91-year-old mother, Joyce Wood, lives at Beechcroft, said she was determined to fight the council's plans.
She said: "We're going to fight it to the end. My mother will be moved out of Beechcroft, where she loves being, over my dead body.
"These extra-care flats are not going to give elderly people such as my mother the 24-7 care they need."
Fellow campaigner Phil Fairbrother, 65, whose 89-year-old mother also lives at Beechcroft, said: "The vast majority of residents at Beechcroft would be totally incapable of looking after themselves in these extra-care flats.
"Charles Jones' plan is doubling capacity for the wrong type of people."
Under the council's plans, 12 homes will close by 2019. These are Ada Belfield in Belper, Rawthorne in Swanwick, The Glebe in Alfreton, The Willows in Ripley, East Clune in Clowne, Red House in Chesterfield, The Leys in Ashbourne, Briar Close in Borrowash, Hillcrest in Erewash, Ladycross House in Sandiacre, Southlands in Erewash and Goyt Valley House in High Peak.
Homes that would be closed and redeveloped include Florence Shipley in Heanor, Holmelea in Tibshelf, New Bassett House in Shirebrook, Derwent House in Chesterfield, The Spinney in Brimington, Beechcroft in West Hallam, Hazlewood in Cotmanhay and The Dales in Repton.
Mr Charles said a full public consultation would be carried out at all care homes before a final decision on whether to close them is made.