LETTER: Main driver in care home closure was improving their quality of life

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In response to the ‘Why demolish care home’ letter (Lincs Free Press, Tuesday July 26), I’d like to offer a number of reassurances – both to those who currently use care homes and those who may need to in the future.

The staff and care provided at Halmer Grange are indeed superb – but the quality of the environment is not.

Our eight county-wide homes require over £1m each to bring them up to a standard that their users deserve.

Of course, the financial cutbacks imposed on all councils have been well publicised and therefore naturally play a role.

However, the main driver in the care homes decision is actually about improving our residents’ quality of life – and the number of options available to them.

Many will have heard the terms ‘personalisation’ and ‘personal budgets’ a great deal recently.

This is a change to how we deliver services; it’s happening nationally, improving the face of adult social care, and we’re therefore embracing it within Lincolnshire.

It means that, instead of simply being prescribed a stay in one of our outdated homes, the individual and their family will be allocated or given the money they are entitled to, along with a menu of options of how it can be spent.

This will enable them to tailor the services they access to fit their own individual needs – and the same also applies to carers’ respite.

We will provide as much or as little support with this as desired.

Rest assured, we are only closing our own homes because we know that high-quality care is available in the private sector; the independent Quality Care Commission recently judged the standard to be either good or excellent in almost 95 per cent of homes.

We’re one of the only authorities to hold provider forums, meaning we work very closely with the care providers to ensure a first-class range and standard of services.

What’s more, we’ll help with the transition every step of the way as we fully understand families’ concerns about change and disruption.

Needs assessments have been taking place throughout July and August, with face-to-face discussions now under way, too.

Many residents are already using personal budgets or have already received help to identified alternative services and we’ll continue this with everyone to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.

The decision to close Halmer Grange did indeed follow significant public consultation, with opportunities to contribute during late 2009/early 2010, followed by day sessions in all of our homes and other events at local venues too.

An independent online and paper survey in March 2010 with care home users and relatives on the changes has also been followed by several Community Liaison Group meetings.

Detailed information packs have additionally now been sent to the homes, which include information on specialist care such as dementia.

We completely understand that maintaining routine is important for people and are confident that this change for the better can be a seamless and positive one for those currently in care.

This will also set up a better future for Lincolnshire residents who need care in the years and generations to come.

Richard Collins

Head of Adult

Social Care Strategic

Development,

Lincolnshire County

Council