Victory in care homes battle

CareGate group outside Rose House care home. The group has successfully campaigned to keep care homes in Doncaster open
CareGate group outside Rose House care home. The group has successfully campaigned to keep care homes in Doncaster open

Campaigners who fought plans to close council run care homes have claimed victory after a private firm was lined up to keep them open.

Doncaster Council has named Runwood Homes as its preferred bidder to take over the running its seven remaining residential homes for the elderly.

The authority, which put out to tender for a third-party provider to take over the homes, has called the move ‘good news’ for residents.

Its original plans to close the homes sparked a public outcry, with protesters forming the Caregate campaign group. Members instructed lawyers to look into the legality of the council’s plans to close the sites.

Chairman, Peter Sumner, said campaigners wanted the homes to remain under council control, but the latest development was still a victory.

He added: “The mayor is saying she has listened to the people. She hasn’t listened, she has been put under scrutiny by us and our lawyers who have put pressure on the council for the last 12 months and stood our ground.

“This is a victory for the people of Doncaster.

“A total of 27,500 people signed our petition against care home closures and we want to thank them and let them know Caregate is still fighting on their behalf.”

Mr Sumner thanked the 27,500 people who signed Caregate’s petition against the closures and said members wanted to work with Runwood Homes.

Caregate would now campaign on a national level for extra funding to be spent on dementia and social care, he added.

Mr Sumner said: “Our campaign is only in its infancy. We will be the voice of the people in Doncaster and continue to fight for the most vulnerable people.”

Essex-based Runwood Homes has 58 care homes nationally.

The homes in Doncaster - 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 - will be Runwood’s first in Yorkshire.

Over the coming weeks Doncaster Council will be entering into formal negotiations to finalise the contract. The authority and Runwood will make arrangements for transfer of staff.

The pair are also due to organise a series of meetings with residents and their families, to outline and involve them in their proposed plans.

Mayor Ros Jones said of the decision: “This announcement is good news and a real positive step forward towards securing a longer-term future for the home, residents and staff.”

Gordon Sanders, chief executive of Runwood, said: “We are committed to working closely with all concerned to ensure that the transfer proceeds as smoothly as possible.

“In the longer term we have investment proposals that will see the transferred homes brought up to the environmental and space standards now expected.”