Relatives voice concerns over Kirklees Council's plans to transfer dementia care homes in Heckmondwike and Newsome to private sector

Relatives of residents at Kirklees’ dementia care homes have voiced concerns over the council’s plans to transfer the sites to the private sector.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

On March 12, Kirklees Council’s cabinet gave the go-ahead for the local authority to begin exploring the option of transferring its two dementia care homes – Claremont House in Heckmondwike and Castle Grange in Newsome – to the independent sector. This comes as part of the bid to reduce the council’s £47m deficit.

Relatives of residents across the two homes attended the meeting to seek assurance and express their fears about the council’s proposals.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Sarah Newton sought assurance that the council has plans to place restrictions on any new operator to ensure the type of care being provided is limited to dementia-only, rather than “dabbling” in dementia care.

Sarah Newton speaking at the cabinet meeting. Photo: Youtube/Kirklees CouncilSarah Newton speaking at the cabinet meeting. Photo: Youtube/Kirklees Council
Sarah Newton speaking at the cabinet meeting. Photo: Youtube/Kirklees Council

She said that this was something she had observed from other private providers and is “not good enough” for loved ones at the homes.

Ms Newton also wanted to know if protections would be put in place to stop an independent provider from closing the home over the next two decades.

Coun Jackie Ramsay, cabinet member for health and social care, highlighted the council’s adult social care strategy to ensure that vulnerable people are supported and said that some of the independent sector care homes provide excellent dementia care.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She added: “Should a decision be made to transfer the homes, we wouldn’t be able to guarantee non-closure for 20 years.

"We have, however, previously written in specific clauses where the receiving provider has to comply with certain legal obligations, for instance – only using them for residential care.”

Referring to the “immense pressure” put on the council over the closure plan, and its need to limit “reputational damage”, Ms Newton said: “We feel now that this is potentially a backdoor proposal to transfer assets into the private sector.”

She asked for guarantees that the current proposal isn’t a “backdoor” way of the council getting its original desired outcome – closing the care homes.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This allegation was quickly shut down by Leader of the Council, Coun Cathy Scott, who said: “Can I just put on record here – we do not do business through the backdoor, so we can strike that. That is not true.”

Coun Ramsay continued: “The initial proposal that came to cabinet was about the closure of the homes and during the consultation period, we had a lot of feedback around – was there a different way of doing it?

"This is an opportunity for us to explore a different way.”

Now that approval has been granted to progress the new proposals for a transfer, the council will continue to run the homes until a new provider has been found.

The council says that if a provider cannot be found, the homes will continue to be council-run.

The homes are currently operating with a 46.25 percent occupancy rate, with the local authority to begin filling the beds in both homes while it explores options with independent sector providers.