Wrexham’s last council owned care home is to close despite a fierce opposition from members of the public and some councillors.
In a report that was presented before the committee today it was recommended that Nant Silyn Care Home in Caia Park is closed, with £197,000 reinvested into preventative services.
The care home, which is located on Pont Wen is the only council owned residential care home in Wrexham, after a decision was made in 2006 for Wrexham Council to ‘cease its involvement in the direct provision of residential care for older people, including EMH Services’
The care home has 29 beds and currently has only seven permanent residents. Beds have also been used for respite care purposes. At present there are two service users who regularly use the respite care beds and a further six service users who make occasional use of the respite care beds.
The proposed closure of the care home had been met with much controversy from members of the public – with a petition consisting over 4,500 signatures submitted to Wrexham Council last week.
Speaking today about the recommendation, Lead Member for Adult Health and Social Care Cllr Joan Lowe said: “The report before us today requesting permission to implement proposal to decommission services at Nant Silyn. It is important to remember the context, it has been developed to respond to increasing demographic pressures.
“Older people have expressed first reference to remain in own homes and in their community as long as possible. Adult social care has been reshaping its services for older people to reflect that priority.”
Cllr Lowe added: “The proposals being brought forward are at a point where there are seven residents at Nant Silyn. Every effort has been made to ensure service users, family and staff have had the chance to express their views
“Feedback has ranged from strong opposition to acknowledgement for the needs for change. All feedback and issues raised have been considered and additional options have been explored
“However neither the consultation or assessment of users have produced any compelling arguments of evidence which would change the recommendations.
Following on from the Executive Board meeting in July, staff, service users and their families took part in a consultation on the proposed closure of the care home. The meeting was told today that staff have been supported by HR and Trade Unions during the consultation process.
Cllr Lowe noted today that staff at Nant Silyn were offered the opportunity to accept voluntary redundancy, early retirement or redeployment.
However the consultation process was questioned by Cllr Arfon Jones, who asked whether the consultation is ‘flawed’ due to the number of people involved in the process.
Cllr Jones added: “It is believed the council sent letters which were sent before the end of the consultation, which would indicate the council had already decided to close Nant Silyn before the closure of the consultation. You can’t consult on something you have already decided.”
Charlotte Walton, supporting officer said: “Part of the consultation with staff is to make sure they are fully informed about what the options would be should it close. We had to give real information on what would voluntary redundancy or early retirement would look like for them.
“People also needed to know what would the redeployment options would be. It is about showing what their future options might look like should it close.”
The debate on the proposed closure of the care home went on for 90 minutes and featured many impassioned requests by councillors to keep the care home open and look at alternative options before making a full decision to close the home.
Cllr Malcolm King noted that ‘we need a different way of doing this and need a different way for the people of Wrexham now’ and that it’s ‘much easier to have discussions with the Pope’ than Betsi Cadwaladr
Cllr King added: “I would want to put on record my support for general strategy for keeping people in their own homes. Neither do I believe public care is better than private care, there is a range of quality in each sector.
“Neither do I believe we should save every home which comes up for closure – in fact when I was lead member, supported with regret initial closure of Nant Silyn. Personal experience with my mother, together we are thinking more deeply have led me to a different conculsion.
“Patently obvious many of the issues we need to deal with would have to be deal with pooling budget and joint commissioning.
“Can we renew our efforts with the health trust to have a better dialogue with them? It is pointless having nursing and nursing EMI on its own, we can’t keep fleecing people. Can we start a more conservative conversation with the health trust?
Cllr Lowe said: “I agree about keeping people in their own homes and this is what our aim is. With the health board, we keep batting it their way, it’s like trying to have a meeting with the pope. We have been speaking with them since last March about another establishment and we are still no further on.
“I believe Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is too big, but Welsh Assembly Government took that decision and we are where are.”
Speaking about the recommendation to close the care home, Cllr Graham Rogers said: “Today is a day where the Tory / Independent administration will decide on the future of Nant Silyn, a facility which has served the people of Wrexham for a number of years. There are a number of people who are in good health at present, but none of us can predicate the future and what our health will be like in years to come.
“Search your consciousness and think seriously before you make a decision which you may live to regret.”
Cllr Brian Cameron called the recommendation a ‘disastrous decision’ and told the Executive Board ‘if we attack the vulnerable people, we do it at our own peril’
Responding to comments about attacking vulnerable people, Cllr Hugh Jones said: “I don’t believe it’s fair to say we are attacking the most vulnerable. We are trying to get best possible care provision for people who want to use it.”
However comments made about the political make-up of the Executive Board were slammed by Cllr David Kelly, who said: “There are issues around these provisions and we have seen homes close around the country. There is always public outcry, we are living with a change in society.
“One of my pet hates is statistics where are are out of date. The latest ones go back 12 months. We don’t know how many people out there wanting this provision. Addressing issue of Betsi Cadwaladwr, if the Labour led government in Cardiff can’t get it to work. I take exception to people saying a Tory led panel here. It is not a problem of our making.
“A lot of these homes closed in the past haven’t been fit for purpose. Alternative provision, changing demographics, impassioned keep it open, prop it up it probably isn’t fit for the new challenges we face in the future.
“I don’t thank members who have put emotional arguments against this board. Most of us here are Independent councillors, not Tory led.”
An amendment to the proposed decommissioning of Nant Silyn was put forward by Cllr Andrew Bailey, who requested a deferment so that all relevant partners explore a joint venture.
This however was refused by members of the Executive Board who voted unanimously in favour of the closure of the care home.
Wrexham.com did preempt this outcome last week by noting the rarity of the reports that go before the Executive Board that get refused.