Tuesday 19 February 2013

Future of Residential & Day Care in Caversham Heights

Arthur Clark Residential Home
At last night's Cabinet meeting the future of residential & day care in Caversham Heights was discussed.

The Arthur Clark Residential Care Home, which provides care for 24 residents plus 2 respite care beds is in need of £1 million improvements/refurbishment if it is to be brought up to modern standards.

Albert Rd Day Centre
The adjacent Albert Road Day Care Centre has a capacity of 20 - though currently a daily average of 13 clients. As it shares services with Arthur Clark, for the Centre to continue as a single entity officers estimate £400,000 would be needed to bring it up to a decent building standard.  It gives carers a life-line by providing them with a break from their important role.

The Director, Avril Wilson's report sets out the necessity to either temporarily close both buildings to carry out extensive refurbishment to bring them up to the new standards: or permanently close them both.

On behalf of the Conservative Group I said that any proposed closure needed to be handled incredibly carefully and sensitively, but even more so places like these where there are vulnerable, elderly residents.  Much has been learnt over the years here in Reading since the heartache caused by the closure process in 2002 of Wilton House and I said that I'd been reassured by my briefing with Avril Wilson last week as officers are very much aware of the issues at stake.

I raised the fact that moving frail elderly individuals can have a dramatic affect on their health so only when it is absolutely essential should this be done.  I acknowledged that a difficult decision has to be made in this instance and pledged my Group's support to help work this through.

The Conservative Group naturally would like Reading's residents to have excellent care and accommodation and noted that the private sector provides better accommodation at a reduced cost.

I asked that if the Labour administration decides on closure, that they put the utmost effort into:

  • Keeping residents, loved ones and staff fully informed and up-to-date
  • Keeping friend groups of residents together
  • Keeping residents close by and accessible to loved ones
  • Optimising the closure timing to minimise disruption to residents; and
  • Work with the local ward councillors and respective shadow spokesmen
Labour was grateful for the cross-party support and agreed the report's recommendation to go out to consultation, the results of which are expected in the summer.  You can read the full report here.

By the way, last week I'd asked Avril Wilson what the policy was about admitting residents into Arthur Clark and was pleased to hear officers had decided not to allow any new admissions whilst the consultation was taking place.  This is sensible - much better to put residents elsewhere until there is certainty over the future.  I asked if there was capacity elsewhere in Reading: the answer was yes.