Bath Voice News: city councillors involved in Lib Dem-Labour clash over the possible closure of the Keynsham care home Charlton House

By John Wimperis, local democracy reporter: A council is planning to close down a council-run care home where a person was left sat in urine overnight — but councillors have warned there has been a “lack of transparency” over the proposal.

A CQC report into Chalton House in Keynsham published a year ago found one person had been left sitting in urine overnight, another had an “unexplained bruise” to their chest, and staff did not call for medical assistance for seven hours after one person had suffered a stroke.

Now Bath and North East Somerset Council, which runs the care home, is consulting on plans to shut it down. The care home’s 11 residents would be offered support to find new accommodation while staff would mostly move to other council-run care homes such as Cleeve Court and Combe Lea.

The council is in discussion with the Royal United Hospital to use the Charlton House building as a “step-down ward over winter.”

The consultation stated: “We would make every effort to minimise the disruption of any move. We recognise that we are talking about people’s homes, and we would work closely with the current staff, service users, families, and carers, together with external support agencies, such as health professionals, to ensure a smooth transition.”

The proposed move does not affect the extra care scheme at Hawthorn Court, which is on the same site as Charlton House.

In January, the council’s cabinet member for adult services Alison Born had delivered an apology for the state of the care home at a council scrutiny panel on children, adults, health and wellbeing, stating the council was “extremely sorry.” Now the same scrutiny panel is set to write to Ms Born to express its “disappointment” that it was not told of the plans to close the care home — despite Ms Born having been questioned by the scrutiny panel about the same care home just a month before the consultation on the plans to close it was launched.

Speaking at the latest meeting of the panel, chair Dine Romero said: “The answers we got were not as full as we later learnt that they ought to have been.”

Asked at a council cabinet meeting in November by Labour council opposition leader Robin Moss about why the plan had not been mentioned at the meeting, Ms Born said: “I did make reference to the upcoming consultation in my last report to scrutiny and would have been happy to have discussed it further but it was not picked up or raised.”

In a Labour Party statement, the deputy chair of the scrutiny panel, councillor Liz Hardman said: “The council’s lack of transparency is no way to treat these families and residents, who reasonably thought Charlton House’s future was secure. I urge people to take part in the consultation, so that Bath and North East Somerset Council fully understands local people’s care needs.”

Ms Born said in a statement: “The council is following a clear and transparent process to reach its decision on this. It is consulting until December 18 on proposals to reshape care for people being looked after in our three community resource centres, Cleeve Court, Combe Lea and Charlton House. These are difficult and sensitive issues as they concern people’s homes. We have held forums for staff, relatives, residents and the public, enabling them to respond to the proposed changes that affect all three homes and as cabinet member I have also responded to queries from individual councillors.

“Along with senior officers of the council I attended a drop-in session at Charlton House last week to discuss the proposals with families and residents, and I am listening closely to what is being said in the consultation. No decision has yet been made and we will consider carefully the views we receive before doing so.

“The council gave notice on October 3 that I as cabinet member was considering approving consultation on the future delivery model for the council’s three community resource centres. The Children, Adults Health and Wellbeing PDS Panel was also informed on October 9 that there were plans for consultation on the future use of the Community Resource Centres.

“The decision report containing the consultation proposals, including for Charlton House, was published — alongside the Equalities Impact Assessment — on October 13. The decision to consult on the proposals was made on November 1. Following the expiry of the call-in period, the consultation began on November 9. An update will be given to the PDS Panel on December 11 and the views of panel members will be fed into the consultation.

“The outcome paper will be bought to the PDS panel in the new year and a decision will then be taken.”

You can take part in the consultation here until December 18:

The picture shows the ITVX website that ran a story on the care home in 2022.

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