A councillor has made an impassioned plea for Kirklees Council to save two threatened residential care homes for people with dementia.
Almondbury Liberal Democrat councillor Paola Davies, whose own mother is in a care home in Kirklees with dementia, gave an emotional speech at a full council meeting.
Kirklees Council is proposing the closure of its two dementia care homes, Castle Grange in Newsome and Claremont House in Heckmondwike.
Clr Davies warned that moving residents from one home to another always took a terrible toll, no matter how sensitively it was done.
“Taking residents away from their familiar place leads to a massive deterioration and they never come back from that,” said Clr Davies. “However sensitively you look at relocating someone, it’s a step-change in deterioration.
“People never come back to where they were before. You are taking these family members further away from their loved ones.
“There’s already anxiety out there in the community about dementia care, the lack of places and day care facilities.
“I know people who are looking after people in their own homes who don’t have access to funding and they are looking at this story and they are frightened for their family members and what’s going to happen to them going forward.
“We should review this fully and properly and keep these people in their homes.”
Clr Davies was speaking during a debate triggered when a petition exceeds 3,000 signatures. The petition against the closure of Claremont House was signed by 4,713 people.
One of the organisers of the petition, Donna Mallinson, whose mum lives at Claremont House, said the home provided a “loving, happy and stable environment” and was the perfect example of quality care.
Donna (above, left) branded the closure plans “morally wrong and inhumane” and said “evicting” residents could shorten, or even end, the lives of their loved ones.
She added: “Kirklees’s proposal to close this home is flawed, has inaccuracies and fails to report on what would happen to residents if they close this home and force them to live somewhere else.
“The residents’ only option, should they be evicted through no fault of their own, would be to go to private sector care.
“Historically we, and many other families, have first hand experience of private sector care and can vouch for the maltreatment of our family members. The mysterious unwitnessed falls, the medication given to calm them down, the lack of personal care, the missed meals. I could go on.”
Kirklees had suggested six alternative private sector homes but Donna said they did not offer comparable care – and would increase the financial strain on families.
She added: “The weekly cost for a self-funded resident would between £250 and £472 more expensive per week. For local authority-funded residents they would require an additional third party top up of at least £100 per week from a family member.
“How can Kirklees force self-funding residents to pay more for inferior care and how can they expect a family member to find that amount of money, again for inferior care?”
Green group leader and Newsome councillor Andrew Cooper said the council faced some “awful” financial choices because of the “complete mess” of how local government was funded.
But that situation should focus the council’s mind on what was important – and that was caring for the most vulnerable in society.
Clr Cooper praised the quality of care at both Castle Grange and Claremont House as “excellent” and added: “There’s a feeling there’s not the same quality in the private sector as you experience in the public sector and that should be a source of pride for the council.
“The council care is ‘best in class.’ That’s something we should be celebrating, not something we should be cutting.
“People trust the council and that’s something we should value and treasure and put money into.”
Tory leader Clr David Hall (Liversedge & Gomersal) said the council had “taken its eye off the ball” which had left it in this position.
However, he believed there was a deal that could be done with the private sector to keep the homes open even with “some level of continued funding over a shorter period of time.”