ONE of Wrexham's two remaining residential care homes will close this year as Wrexham Council privatises a large part of its Social Services department.
Wrexham County Borough Council will consult over the next six to eight weeks with residents, their families, staff and trade unions at Llys Madoc and Nant Silyn before deciding which one will close.
The council is also planning to hand over to private care companies half of the responsibility of running Home Care schemes for elderly people living in their own homes.
The council has said the decision was unavoidable in the face of a poor financial settlement from the Welsh Assembly and its plans will save more than £1 million over three years.
However, a campaigner for the rights of the elderly says the plans could lead to the death of elderly people traumatised by having to move from the care home that closes.
Chief Social Services officer Andrew Figiel said: 'We cannot afford not to look at saving money because if we can't cope now, in a few years we will be in even deeper trouble. By 2024 there will be 60% more people in Wrexham over the age of 85.
'There are 13 vacancies in total across the two homes. We have 29 beds in Nant Silyn and 26 in Llys Madoc. There is no waiting list and it seems a growing number of elderly people want to stay in their own homes and receive necessary care there.'
'This is not about the services Wrexham Council provides being inferior to the private sector,' said Mr Figiel. 'But it is more cost-effective than retaining the provision in-house.
'When it comes to moving care home residents, we will be sympathetic in our approach. Some people will be fine and able to move well. Others won't and we will have to look at everyone's needs.'
The council intends to shut one home by the end of this year.
Campaigner for the rights of the elderly Ken Mack said: 'I want to know who will be responsible if any of the elderly people who are moved die within a few weeks of their eviction.
'There is an ongoing coroner's inquiry in Cheshire relating to elderly people who died not long after being moved from one care home to another. In Birmingham, too, the coroner has launched an investigation after a similar occurrence.
'Wrexham Council could be about to contribute to the premature death of elderly people. Continuity of care is the key. Elderly people often struggle with major change, it is stressful because they have habits and routines.
'Wrexham Council is riding roughshod over their needs. On top of that they are also planning to sign over responsibility for in-home care to private companies. The elderly have fewer legal rights to complain and demand change than they do in council-run properties.'
Mr Mack added: 'The council says it needs to save money. Why then is it trying to fund the purchase of a picture of slave trader Foster Cunliffe? Why is it spending money trying to get city status? Why are these things more important than the elderly residents of Wrexham?'
* Ken Mack is launching a petition against these plans. For a copy of the petition to gather signatures send a stamped addressed envelope to 19 Crathie Place, Wrexham LL11 2HB.