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Families Fight On To Save Council-Run Bishop’s Waltham Care Home From Closure

By Times Reporter in News on January 18, 2024

Relatives of residents at a Hampshire care home are urging the council to reconsider its proposed closure as part of a multi-million-pound plan to transform and expand nursing care accommodation.

Bishops Waltham House and Green Meadows in Denmead are among seven council care homes earmarked for closure under plans to invest £173 million over the next five to six years to ‘transform and expand the future of nursing and specialist care accommodation’.

Anita Barry and Amber Channon presented their opposition to the closure of Bishop Waltham House to members of the Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee.

Anita Barry said that her mum, an 86-year-old resident of Bishop Waltham with dementia, has been living at the residence since 2019, in which she is well cared for and happy.

Mrs Barry said: “If you look at the advice given by Dementia UK, it states the importance of retaining a sense of calm and dignity towards the end of life. My mum has a right to an advanced health care plan, which includes respecting her wishes on where she ends her days. She wants to stay at Bishops Waltham House, which is her home.

“Moving residents from another home can only reduce their life expectancy for people like my mum. How would you feel if your relative faced the situation?

Mrs Barry also said that in January 2022, Councillor Liz Fairhurst publicly stated that no care homes would be closed down permanently.

She said the new plan “seems to be a complete reverse of her previous state position” and “should be challenged by this committee”.

“It is completely unjustifiable that the closure of Bishop Waltham House should be closed within six to 12 months of this decision before any plan could be made to avoid losing this valuable community facility,” she added.

“Please remember the impact on lives and the needs of every one of the 77 residents across Hampshire who could be moved out of their homes. A lot is said about the dignity of the residents through these documents. Please show my mum, this grandmother, and all the other residents the dignity and respect they deserve for their final days and allow them to stay in their house.”

Chairman of the committee, Councillor Bill Whitters, said working group members were “struck” by what they witnessed during the care home visits, especially the building and layout limitations at Bishop Waltham and Hemsworth House.

Councillor Whitters said: “We were also concerned about the lack of personal dignity provided and the challenges for staff to operate in layouts and buildings that are outdated and increasingly not fitted for purposes. We thoroughly believe we can do better.”

Cross-party group members supported the proposal and advocated for better and more modern buildings fitted for the future.

Councillor Pamela Bryant said: “I really do understand the feelings of the relatives up there […] but I think we have to look for the future. Bishop Waltham is a facility that was OK during the 80s and 90s but certainly is not fit for purpose for the 20th century.

Councillor Andy Tree said: “For me, this is about emotions vs facts because if it were my mum at Bishops Waltham, I would probably sit there [public seats] because the snapshot that I saw was a real community, residents, staff, people smiling. They had a mum who played music, and the residents danced around the room.

“If we have a magic wand and simply fix the building, make it fit for 2024 and keep the community, the staff, and the residents as it is, we, of course, would do, but that choice is not available.”

Chairman Councillor Whitters said that no new admissions will be made in Bishops Waltham House, Green Meadows in Denmead, Solent Mead (including the day service) in Lymington, Oakridge House in Basingstoke, Ticehurst in Aldershot and Emsworth House on the outskirts of Havant.

Having the unanimous support of the working group, the final decision on permanently closing the residential care homes will be made on February 8 at the executive lead member for adult social care and public health decision day.

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