Rhondda Cynon Taf council’s leader has promised there will be no compulsory staff redundancies if the closure of four care homes goes ahead.
Councillor Andrew Morgan made the pledge as the council’s cabinet agreed to start a 12-week consultation on plans which would see four of the 11 council-run homes for the elderly close.
The four homes that the council is proposing to shut are Bronllwyn Residential Care Home in Gelli, Ystradfechan Residential Care Home in Treorchy , Dan y Mynydd Residential Care Home in Porth and Garth Olwg Residential Care Home in Church Village .
An independent review recommended the council carry out a phased closure of all its care homes and day services.
But the council’s preferred option was to retain a presence in the local care market and to introduce a new model of day services in RCT.
Cllr Morgan requested a pledge that there would be no compulsory redundancies for current staff as part of any changes was included in what cabinet approved.
He said they have had a number of expressions of interest from staff already in terms of leaving.
Cllr Morgan said he is supportive of the proposals as they provide the right mix with £50 million going towards developing a number of extra care facilities across the borough to help people live independently for longer.
He also said they are looking at delivering a new model for day services.
Cllr Morgan said they will still have the second highest number of care homes in Wales after Powys if the changes go ahead.
The views of opposition councillors
Cllr Pauline Jarman, who represents Mountain Ash East, said: “I am pleased that it is proposed that the Troed y Rhiw home should be retained.
“I am confident that managers and staff will display a level of versatility to adapt. They have my full confidence.”
Cllr Jarman lost a motion at the overview and scrutiny meeting which considered the proposals to retain all 11 of the council-run care homes.
But she pointed to the UK Government’s Operation Yellowhammer report on the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit.
She highlighted references to the impact on social care and said “now is not the time to reduce public residential care.”
“It is a gamble to close any on the back of strong expectations that we will leave the EU without a deal. It is better to be safe than sorry.”
Councillor Julie Williams said: “I am disappointed to see that Porth might be one of the ones that is closing.
“We’ve already lost our day centre. People in Porth think everything is going.”
Councillor Larraine Jones, who represents Ystrad, raised concerns about the Bronllwyn home in Gelli.
She said some staff and residents she had spoken to were not aware that the home might be closing although the director did say that letters had been sent out and they had spoken to managers.
“We have a duty of care to innocent and vulnerable residents. I urge you to reconsider.”
Councillor Will Jones of Treorchy spoke about Ystradfechan home in his ward which is also one of the four proposed for closure.
He said the impact on displacing elderly and frail residents could be catastrophic.
The case made by campaigners
Dr Len Arthur from the Save Care Homes and Centres (SCHAC) campaign group said it was not the time to close care homes.
He said that as many as 78 residents could be left in uncertainty over the proposals and raised concerns over data analysis, the private sector, inadequate consultation, finances and the definition of complex care.
He claimed that austerity does lie behind proposals and urged the council to meet with them and Welsh Government over the future of social care while placing a moratorium on the loss of care places now.
The view of the director and the cabinet member
Gio Isingrini, the council’s director of community and children’s services, said he believes this is the “right direction of travel.”
He said: “The current provision won’t be able to meet changing needs and demands.
“Doing nothing is not a viable option. We want to offer a viable alternative for people who want to live independently for longer.”
He praised the standard of care given by staff currently in RCT but that many residents are already choosing to go in to independently run homes.
He said any closures would be phased and that it is not about saving money but about providing better options for people.
Mr Isingrini said: “I think the £50 million going in to extra care lays to rest the argument that this is about austerity.”
Councillor Geraint Hopkins, the cabinet member for adult community services said: “I pay tribute to all the staff for the quality of care that they deliver. It is right that we review the service.”