Today, the Conservative Cabinet of Surrey County Council will consider recommendations to close its 6 care homes. Surrey residents asked for a public meeting but this has not been offered by Surrey County Council. In Farnham, a public meeting organised by Save our Services in Surrey, was held in December. Here is a summary by Dr Louise Irvine of the meeting with full transcription.
Here, in her letter to The Farnham Herald last week, Dr Louise Irvine calls on the council to support the residents of Cobgates care home.
Surrey County Council officers are recommending the closure of all six elderly care homes that are owned and run by the Council, including Cobgates in Farnham. The recommendations will go for decision by the Cabinet on 10 March.
This recommendation is a severe blow to the care home residents, their families and friends who had hoped that the detailed critique and well argued rebuttals of the Council’s arguments for closure, as well as the heartfelt pleas of those who will be affected would have been listened to.
Assurances that residents will be helped to find alternative accommodation completely disregards the views and needs of the residents. These homes are their homes in the true sense of the word “home”. They have formed long lasting bonds with each other and with staff. These bonds are life enhancing and life sustaining and can’t just be broken up and recreated somewhere else. There is strong evidence of serious harm to physical and mental health of forced removal of residents from their homes.
At a time when future population projections show we will need more care homes, including those that provide specialist dementia care, it seems extremely short sighted and irresponsible to propose closing excellent homes that are clearly much valued and needed by local people. The argument that there was insufficient demand is totally spurious as it was the Council itself that told the homes to close some of their rooms and stop admitting new residents! Contributions to the consultation provide convincing arguments that the homes can be upgraded and modernised without having to close.
One in four care homes nationally fails CQC inspections, but all six Surrey County Council care homes have passed their CQC inspections. Why isn’t Surrey County Council proud of its excellent homes and eager to support them? They provide great models of care that others could learn from. Closing these homes would be a grave error on the part of SCC. It would not only put the health and wellbeing of current care home residents at risk, but would not be in the long term interests of Surrey residents.
There will be a lobby of the Surrey County Council Cabinet meeting outside County Hall, Kingston, KT1 2DN on Tuesday 10 March at 12.30pm. Residents and family members of Cobgates and the other Surrey homes will be there. One of Cobgate’s residents, Margaret, is 98 and was out in Farnham town centre on a cold January day collecting petitions to save her home. She will be at the lobby on Tuesday. Don’t leave Margaret and her friends to fight alone – please let’s support them and make this a huge lobby that could help to ensure that the Council makes the right decision and agrees to keep their homes open.
Dr Louise Irvine
National Health Action Party