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Closing care homes may prove fatal
10:00am Tuesday 22nd October 2013 in News
THE closure of council-run care homes for the elderly in Hampshire could be costing lives, claim campaigners, after conducting research into three previously closed homes – one in Andover.
Homes were shut in Kings Worthy, Gosport and Fleet in 2012, and Cherry Orchard in Andover in 2011.
The county council has confirmed that 32 of 77 elderly residents have since died — a mortality rate of 42 per cent, compared to a usual death rate in care homes of 18 per cent across the UK.
Eight passed away after news of threatened closures, and 24 after being moved.
The figures were uncovered by campaigners fighting to save four residential homes threatened with the axe — Nightingale Lodge in Romsey, plus homes in Lyndhurst, Basingstoke and Petersfield.
If the council goes ahead with the plans, 121 long-term residents would have to move and 193 jobs would be shed.
The Conservative-run council says that it would cost £10m to modernise the homes, and has put forward plans to turn three into extra care housing schemes of individual flats with support services run by housing associations.
In a statement, the local authority said it was “unable to conclude”
if being moved was to blame.
But Andover councillor Tony Hooke, the deputy leader of the UKIP group on the council, described the mortality rate as “shocking and depressing”.
He said: “These are elderly, frail and vulnerable people who are not able to defend themselves. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind there is a correlation between moving these elderly people and their premature death.”
Cllr Hooke said he would investigate if closures breached their right to life under the European Court of Human Rights.
Relatives and public service union Unison warned that the trauma of moving can put lives at risk.
Tim Cutter, branch secretary for Unison Hampshire, said: “A higher percentage of vulnerable elderly people die within the first year of care homes closing.”
The council said residents were not moved until suitable alternative accommodation was found and some families had told the council that their elderly relatives were happier in their new care homes.
Cllr Anna McNair Scott, executive member for adult services, said: “Figures of this kind can give no indication of medication conditions that would have affected individuals.
The wellbeing of those in our care is our priority.”
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