Elderly care home to shut its doors after half a century

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A council-run care home for the elderly in Burnley is to close after 50 years in operation.

The Lower Ridge residential home will shut after Lancashire County Council’s cabinet concluded that the design of the building meant the facility could not meet modern-day standards.

Members heard that resident numbers had dwindled and the home was currently operating at significantly less than its capacity - in spite of being rated ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission.

In a lengthy presentation, cabinet member for adult services, Graham Gooch, said that the “excellent care delivered by dedicated and well-managed staff” could not compensate for the “parlous state of the building”.

“There are no en-suite bedrooms which means all the residents have to have a pot in their room and [use of] a communal toilet in the corridor. I want something better for residents,” County Cllr Gooch said.

And he told members that the design standards of the late 1960s translated into a poor experience for residents in 2018.

“The communal area is on the ground floor and the bedrooms are on the upper floors, so getting there independently is difficult.

“Consequently, residents tend to be taken downstairs at breakfast and spend the whole day there. Some people like to sit quietly in their own room...or watch television on a channel of their own choosing,” County Cllr Gooch said.

In a public consultation, almost 90 percent of respondents disagreed with the proposal to close Lower Ridge. Around half said that it would be better to refurbish the building.

Cabinet heard that the authority had investigated alternatives to closure, but that the £500,000 worth of work needed on the building would “do nothing to correct the fundamental design flaws”.

The £7m option of rebuilding the home on the existing site was dismissed because the plot was deemed too small to accommodate a better facility.

County Cllr Gooch added that even options other than closure would still require residents to leave in the short term, meaning that that they would have to move twice and so “heightening the risk of any ill effects on their wellbeing”.

Members were told that there are seventeen other care homes in Burnley rated as ‘good’ and that the authority would consider offering “flexibility” over the amount it contributed towards the cost faced by any resident moving into a higher-priced private facility.

A single council-run care home remains in the borough of Burnley, in the Padiham area, bringing the district into line with most others in the county.

Council leader Geoff Driver said the decision had rightly been looked at from every angle.

“If we felt that expending those sums of money would make [Lower Ridge] the sort of home for the elderly that we’d all want, we would readily incur that expenditure,” he said.

And he emphasised that the vote included a requirement for the needs of the residents to be addressed and for families to have the time to make whatever decision was best for their relative.

Appropriate vacancies within other council-run care homes in Each Lancashire will be held open until families have had time to consider their options.

“This is their home and we’ve just decided to close their home - and we must do that in the most compassionate way,” County Cllr Driver said.

Cabinet was also told that a new "extra care" facility will be built in Burnley, which balances the needs of residents who need constant care or just monitoring.

The scheme will consist of individual flats, with their own front doors.