Private lifeline for Doncaster care homes earmarked for closure

Members of the public is at Doncaster Council to hand over a petition about the closure of care homes. Picture: Andrew Roe
Members of the public is at Doncaster Council to hand over a petition about the closure of care homes. Picture: Andrew Roe

Council-run care homes in Doncaster could stay open, with private firms considering taking over running them.

Mayor Ros Jones said procedures have now started which would result in the old people’s homes staying open, but under the private sector.

Mrs Jones said: “In June, Doncaster Council cabinet members requested that officers seek to identify potential alternative providers for the council’s seven care homes.

“I am pleased this process has identified enough interest to commence a formal procurement process which, if successful, would mean the care homes will not close.”

“The procurement process to transfer the homes has started and is being designed to ensure high-quality of care for our residents.

“Staff would continue to be protected not just in legislative terms, but also through our expectations on an incumbent provider to maintain a skilled and effective workforce.

The council approved the closure of its seven care homes in June, as part of a package of measures to save £109 million from its budget.

More than 130 people currently live in seven homes: Gattison House in Rossington; Oldfield House in Stainforth; Owston View in Skellow; Rose House in Armthorpe; Rowena House in Conisbrough; Stenson Court in Balby; and Plantation View in Cantley.

Hundreds of people have signed petitions against the plans, with relatives of resdients setting up pressure group, Save Our Care Homes, which has been fighting the proposed closures.

Group member Pauline Collins, whose 88-year-old father is a resident at Rowena House, said she was pleased there was now hope the homes would not close, but was still angry the move would mean an end to council-run homes in the borough.

She said: “This is potentially a result in a way, as it would mean our relatives would not have to move.

“However, no matter who it is, there is no guarantee of the care they will get under another provider.

“I’m not pleased because they are still speaking about modernisation and keeping people at home longer.

“Council homes are the crème de la crème because of the staff. But there are just a few companies that own the vast majority of the private homes.”

She also said she was concerned the previous warden system had been axed for elderly people living in the communities.

Mrs Jones said that in terms of the wider question of care home staffing, the council and Doncaster’s NHS clinical commissioning group were working hard to improve the recruitment, retention, skills and training of staff working in the borough’s care home sector.

The council is working with all care homes in the borough to deliver training for workers and a leadership programme for residential managers. There have also been work with a number of homes to support staff in the management of clients with complex dementia conditions.

The council and the CCG have also commissioned a pilot programme about improving care quality by sharing best practice, while work is under way to commission a residential care home education service.

The authority is also currently at the early stages of exploring the possibility of delivering in partnership with Universities a local skills academy for care workers.

Mrs Jones said council officers have spoken to care providers in Doncaster, including the new care home in Woodlands, and have confirmed they are not currently experiencing problems in recruiting social care staff.