FAMILIES of residents living in care homes facing the chop are rallying to fight the closures.

As previously reported in the Daily Echo, Hampshire adult care bosses want to shut four homes all built between the 1960s and early 1980s because they claim it would cost £10m to modernise them.

They are Nightingale Lodge in Romsey, Cranleigh Paddock in Lyndhurst, Deeside in Basingstoke and Bulmer House, Petersfield.

But relatives of elderly residents fear the closures would unsettle their loved ones and create uncertainty.

And now pressure groups and petitions are being organised in a bid to force a full council debate.

There are plans to replace the threatened homes with privately operated individual flats with support services which would result in 121 residents being moved and 193 staff at risk of redundancy.

Daily Echo:

Sheila Shields (above), from Calmore, whose 92-year-old mum Eva lives in the specialist dementia unit in Cranleigh Paddock, which has 28 residents, described the possibility of closure as “total devastation”.

She said: “My mother is settled in here and the last thing we should do is unsettle her by moving her somewhere else.

“It is a huge injustice. As a family we are shocked and desperately worried. We have just found somewhere where she was settled and happy and suddenly the ground is kicked from under your feet and there is no certainty at all.”

County council bosses said residents need bigger, en-suite rooms plus lifting and wider corridors.

But Mrs Shields disputes this and claims her mum and other residents have not had problems.

Daily Echo:

Katherine Bracey (above), from Ampfield, whose 84-year-old dad, Trefor Williams is also a resident at Cranleigh Paddock, said she feared for his future if he was turned out.

She said “I think dad would just give up.

“For my dad it is home, it is not just an institution.”

Mrs Bracey said her dad, a retired research fellow at Southampton University who was awarded an OBE for his work on health education, had lived in four homes but they were not suitable for his needs, which include being able to get up and walk about. She said: “Here he is as good as he can be for the situation. It’s a big extended family.”

Husband Ron Bracey, a consultant psychologist who works with older people, said the home worked well and uprooting the residents was risky.

He said: “Any sudden change can cause stress for the residents even they cannot understand what is happening.” Richard Bambridge, branch secretary of Unite which has vowed to back staff and families to fight the cuts, said: “Our members would not take industrial action they thought would hurt the residents and Hampshire County Council knows that.

“So we need the public to shout. The campaign we have in four homes is extremely popular.

“We have not come across one member of the public who want to pull the homes down.”

A public consultation is taking place until November, County council chiefs say the plans are a response to the challenges of an ageing population, many of whom have increasingly complex care needs and a wish to maintain their independence for as long as possible.