Last night I voted to close the Arthur Clark care home. Very rightly residents and their families are concerned and upset. No-one could make a decision like this lightly and it is a tribute to the dedicated staff how much the service provided at Arthur Clark is valued.
We had to weigh up the clear affection that people have for Arthur Clark and the excellent care that staff provide with all other factors. Not only is this a building designed in the 1950s, with all that means - for example one toilet between five residents, but this is a building where many of the installations have come to the end of their life.
Despite the council having spent nearly £100,000 over the last 3 years alone on Arthur Clark we are now at a point where works are needed urgently that would require residents to move out.
Residents requested an independent survey (all the papers can be found at item 6) to confirm this and amongst other things the independent surveyor concluded mechanical services pose “a high failure risk which could result in building closure”.
It would be irresponsible to ignore this. An unplanned emergency closure would be highly detrimental to the safety of residents.
It is also worth noting that for all that those councillors disagreeing with this said not a single one brought an alternative proposal forward, which they had every right and opportunity to do, as was in fact explained by the chair at the start of the meeting. The only proposal on the table was the one I made.
However in closing in a planned and managed way it is important to do everything possible on an individual basis to reduce the impact and support the twenty current residents.
For the six residents originally from Caversham that could involve supporting regular visitors with transport, for others it may mean trial visits to other homes and for all of them it means the option of choosing an en-suite room.
For the future, as a town we need to commit to ensuring the right mix of homes are available for older people. There is increasing demand for extra care housing that offers the flexibility for independent living but with more support if you need it – as well as day services for the local community.
I visited Oak tree house in Dee Park today and saw the sort of place I would like to grow old, with independence but also care and support available as you need it.
I will work with anyone who will help me secure a future extra-care home at Arthur Clark that will continue the tradition of excellent care but in a building of equally high quality.