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Hope for Cranleigh Paddock as Hampshire County Council's Liz Fairhurst pledges to keep open struggling care homes

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A SENIOR councillor has promised that "temporarily" shut care homes like Cranleigh Paddock in Lyndhurst will not stay closed for good.

Concerns have been raised at Hampshire County Council about such publicly-owned facilities, with the social care budget projected to have a £14m budget deficit by 2023/24, writes David George of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

As reported in the A&T, earlier this year Cranleigh Paddock in Lyndhurst was "temporarily" shut, as well as Copper Beeches in Andover, with occupants moving to alternative housing nearby.

Cranleigh Paddock, Hampshire County Council (52475027)
Cranleigh Paddock, Hampshire County Council (52475027)

But with the social care levy not due to take effect until April 2023, there are some in HCC who fear for the future of care homes that are no longer financially viable.

However, the Conservative cabinet member for adult services and public health, Cllr Liz Fairhurst, has vowed that no care home in Hampshire will be closed down.

She said: "Can I make one thing absolutely clear – we are not in the care home business to make money. We run care homes to care for people and that will always be the bottom line.

"Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, people have been reluctant to put their loved ones into care homes, and so we made the decision to consolidate two homes in our area.

"We plan for all temporarily closed homes to reopen in the near future.

"We want to provide the best care we possibly can. Part of that is getting people into care homes, but also in recruiting and retaining staff members."

Cllr Liz Fairhurst
Cllr Liz Fairhurst

At the time the care homes were closed, HCC said they would remain closed "at least until the summer of 2022".

Cranleigh Paddock was thought to be at 50% capacity at the time it was closed. Afterwards, nearby Forest Court in Totton reached a capacity of 90%.

But the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for health and social care, Cllr David Harrison, feared the long-term impact could be far worse due to rising costs, less government funding and climbing inflation rates.

He said: "We’ve already seen that Hampshire County Council is willing to close care homes, even if it is a temporary measure.

"There are a number of challenges facing the social care sector, that’s irrefutable. Covid-19 tore through care homes at the start of the pandemic and that also drove down occupancy rates.

"What happened at Forest Court is great, and it’s a wonderful care home – but that figure is all down to what happened at Cranleigh Paddock. I don’t know if it’ll ever reopen, truth be told.

"What we have to bear in mind though is that uprooting elderly people from familiar environments is scientifically proven to speed up their mental deterioration."

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