council to close 

NRHNBE120214e1, The Willows care home ripley.
NRHNBE120214e1, The Willows care home ripley.

A Ripley care home will close its doors after the ‘unwelcome decision’ was made by Derbyshire County Council.

Residents are set to face upheaval and jobs are at risk at The Willows in Field Terrace, which is one of four homes and a respite care unit to close as part of the authority’s adult care provision revamp.

Ripley Town Council Leader Steve Freeborn said he was disappointed by the news.

He said: “Obviously I am very disappointed that the Willows is going to close, but given the scale of the cuts in funds from government, the axe has had to fall somewhere. But it’s a sad day and a very worrying time for the residents, their families and all staff.

“It’s a sad thing for Ripley to lose the facilities, ordinary people are paying the price of the government’s ‘austerity’ policies. I sincerely hope all goes well for the residents, their families and the staff.”

The Willows has 20 beds and is currently full.

The three other homes are The Glebe in Alfreton, Red House in Stonegravels and Hilcrest in Kirk Hallam. Respite unit Ecclesfold Resource Centre in Chapel-en-le-Frith, will no longer provide the current six short-term respite care beds. In total 78 residents will be affected.

Local campaigners stormed the meeting held at county Hall in Matlock on Tuesday, demanding to know what alternative provisions were in place and why such a lengthy consultation period took place if closure was imminent.

But council bosses were quick to reassure the public that the decision was not one which was taken lightly, and all avenues had been explored prior to the recommendation to close.

Council leader Anne Western, said: “These are difficult times financially, we are still facing unprecedented cuts and things would have to change considerably for us to not continue making cuts.
“We are stuck between a rock and hard place. Any additional funding which may, or may not be announced by George Osbourne, will be a drop in the ocean compared to what we need – but that hasn’t made the decision any easier.”

Deputy council leader and cabinet member for adult social care, Paul Smith, added: “We have taken the consultation period very seriously for recommendation put before the council today (November 24) – I have had many sleepless nights worrying about what will happen. 
“In 2012, all homes across the region except four were facing closure. But we have managed to retain 18, which is positive.

“The continuing care of residents is extremely important to us, it’s not just about finance. We have had to base the decision on many factors including if they could be adapted to meet future needs and occupancy levels.”

The information gathered was provided as part of a 13-week consultation launched in June in to the plans.

Coun Smith added: “Cabinet members went out to each of the homes and met with staff and residents to show our support.

“We will be losing 160 beds, but it is important to highlight there will still be 639 across the region.

“No closures will take place until we have revisited and discussed alternative options, and we will be with the residents every step of the way.

“We understand why there has been such a strong reaction to the closures because at the end of the day – these are people’s homes. But we will help guide them through the process and help advise them on their options for the future. I would like to thank all the staff for their hard work and professionalism throughout this time.

“The homes will not close immediately to honour existing bookings and until we have identified alternatives.

“It’s not a welcome decision and it would not be recommended if it wasn’t necessary. We need to secure the future of the rest of our homes, so this is a move we have to make.”

No specific timescale has been given as to when the home will close its doors for good, but council chiefs estimated between six and nine months however, stressed it would not see anyone out on the streets if the process were to take longer.

The Willows refused to comment at the time of going to press.