CONSULTATIONS have been agreed on the proposed closure of 30 short stay beds for older people in a city suburb.
The move is planned at Lightfoot Lodge Community Support Centre in Hoole which in addition to the short stay beds offers day services.
Cheshire West and Chester Council says the move is part of a wider modernisation of community support centres.
The council has already announced plans for a multi million pound, 72 bed centre for older people and local residents at the former Woodfield Primary School in Somerset Road, Newton which will include a range of community facilities.
The closure would save the council’s adult care and health service £300,000 in 2010/11 and a further £400,000 in 2011/12, a report discloses.
The consultation was agreed by portfolio holder Cllr Brenda Dowding (Con, Parkgate) on the advice of her director of adult social care and health, Ian Whitehead.
Mr Whitehead told Cllr Dowding in a report: “The modernisation of the community support centres is being driven by three key elements.
“Firstly, existing facilities are outdated and no longer meet Care Quality Commission standards, in particular in relation to bedroom sizes and ensuite facilities.
“Secondly, the cost of staffing these relatively small facilities is proportionately high and represents poor value for money.
“Thirdly, there is spare capacity”.
He reveals that in the three centres in Chester and Ellesmere Port - Lightfoot Lodge, Curzon House and Sutton Beeches - there are typically 20-25 empty beds on any single day out of a total of 94.
“This represents excess capacity and there is a need to equalise supply and demand,” he suggests.
Mr Whitehead continued: “To respond to these issues the council is proposing to build a new state of the art community support centre providing 72 short stay beds.
“This new facility will open in 2012.
“The new build will meet Care Quality Commission standards, will reduce overall running costs, and deliver a better match between supply and demand.
“In addition the new facility will provide a range of communal facilities for use by the wider community.
“This includes a library and internet facility, a restaurant, activity rooms and possibly a gym”.
Cllr Dowding was told that when the new centre opens it is proposed to close both Curzon House and Sutton Beeches.
This would be subject to separate consultation nearer the time.
Mr Whitehead explained: “As there is currently significant spare capacity, it is possible to close the beds at Lightfoot Lodge prior to opening.
“Lightfoot Lodge has been chosen as it has the poorest infrastructure and is the smallest service in Chester with just 30 beds’.
The proposed date for closure is September 2010.
Day services provided at Lightfoot Lodge will continue to operate until an alternative use for the site is identified, expected to be in mid 2011.
“In the long term alternative provision will be made to replace this service utilising the proposed new build extra care scheme at Northgate” said Mr Whitehead.
He recommended that consultations should be carried out on the future of the beds at Lightfoot Lodge and argued their closure would begin the modernisation of community support centres and ensure best value in the provision of short stay services in the interim.
Mr Whitehead accepts there is the possibility there may be weeks where demand for short stay support exceeds supply.
In this event, funds have been set aside for customers to choose their support from an independent residential home of their choice.
Mr Whitehead also warns of possible redundancies but says the council will endeavour to keep appropriate posts open for staff to transfer to following the planned closure.
An option to close Curzon House early and keep Lightfoot Lodge open has been discounted as Curzon House has ‘significantly better’ facilities and is larger.
Cllr Dowding’s decision on consultation is subject to any call in.