Call for council run care home marked for closure to remain a community asset
A councillor wants to ensure the building becomes a place that villagers can use
By Sarah Ward
West Northamptonshire Council is set to make a decision to close down a long-standing care home and a councillor for the area wants the authority to ensure the building remains of use to the community.
The authority has carried out a consultation about the closure of Boniface House in Brixworth and its Conservative-controlled cabinet is likely to sign off its closure at its meeting next Tuesday.
But with no information on what will happen to the building, councillor for the area, Liberal Democrat Jonathan Harris, is keen the council owned building remains of community benefit and provides services that will benefit the health and wellbeing of local villagers.
He told NN Journal:
“I don't think it is good news [that Boniface House will close] because it has served the community well for many years. But I understand that time and needs change. However if it is to close, we as a community need to be engaged in what happens next.
“My gut feeling is that it will be developed by Northamptonshire Partnership Homes for flats.
“Now everyone knows we have a huge waiting list and the homes will help with that in terms of extra housing, but we do not want to lose the building as a place for the community.
“We want to have a say. We have these new local area partnerships (our LAP is called Rural North and contains the four wards of Moulton, Brixworth, Lower Bucky and Braunston and Crick) and our LAP area does not have any buildings listed on the council’s website that can be used by voluntary groups.”
Cllr Harris said the large village, which has 6,000 residents and about 2,300 homes struggles for community spaces. It has a community centre, village hall and a small cafe, which are regularly used to capacity.
The 46 room care home currently only has 13 residents. Last year it had a roof leak and it is currently rated as requiring improvement by regulator the Care Quality Commission.
In the report to be considered by the cabinet it says:
“There are longstanding and considerable difficulties in the recruitment and retention of staff across all four of the internal care homes, including Boniface House. The recent pay increases put in place by Council for front line workers and ongoing recruitment initiatives have meant that the workforce numbers have remained stable.
“However, this activity has not provided the increase in numbers that are required to deliver a full staffing establishment meaning the home is unable to utilise its full bed capacity. There remains a considerable high dependency on agency staff to support the safe staffing levels in the home.
“The building is over 40 years old and whilst it would have been compliant at the time of build it would not meet today’s CQC accessibility of facility requirements for new build care homes due to the lack of ensuite facilities and reduced accessibility for wheelchairs/hoists. Added to this there is insufficient space for the environment to be improved or increased in size. The home requires increasing intervention just to maintain it as a safe environment.
“A condition survey in 2020 highlighted that to maintain the home at just a basic habitable standard would require a minimum investment of approximately £1 million over the next 10 years.”
A consultation survey found that more than 80 per cent of respondents wanted the building to be refurbished, however the authority has said the building would need to close in order to refurbish and the residents would have to be moved anyway.
Boniface House is one of only four care homes run by the local authority. Most of the other homes it uses are privately run.
What will happen to the building when closed is not discussed in the report, but it does point to demolition:
“Separate decisions would be taken on the use or disposal of the site if closure is approved. It is likely demolition costs would be incurred, but these should be offset by the value of re-use or disposal of the site.”