With little more than a week to go before Northamptonshire County Council launches a major consultation on plans to close two Olympus elderly care homes relatives of residents in care say it is an anxious time.
In December, the county council announced it was planning to shut two homes operated by the arms-length management company Olympus Care, in a bid to save £2 million in the 2016/17 budget .
The council needs to make £82.9 million worth of savings in the next financial year to balance its books.
However it is understood the council is going to launch a consultation on which care homes to axe at the authority’s cabinet meeting on February 9, before it goes live at the end of the month.
The council says it will ensure all those displaced will be given a care home bed elsewhere and claims the open market can provide the places more “affordably.”
Colin Horton, 64, of Cedar Road, Abington is one of hundreds of people waiting with baited breath to find out whether their loved ones will be moved to another facility.
The former engineer is retired due to an eyesight condition, but can easily travel three-and-a-half miles to see his mother Hilda at Southfields care home.
His mother is 92 and, with her advanced dementia, he says moving her to a new facility would be devastating.
“This isn’t just about my mother,” Mr Horton said. “It’s about all the people in care homes and their families.”
“They couldn’t care less which home they move them to, they are just saying we will move them.
“They could be pushed from pillar to post for years.
“But these people, like my mum, are happy where they are.”
More modern, private care homes may provide gyms, cafeterias and brighter facilities, Mr Horton says, but ultimately his mother is settled at Southfields because of the quality of the staff.
“The care at Southfields is absolutely superb,” he said. “I have been round to some of the other homes and they just seem to leave them there in the corner. My mother doesn’t need a gym, it’s the people that she likes there.”
His mother has only been at Southfields for nine months but she now refers to Southfields as “home.” She has no recollection of her old bungalow in Overstone, which her family had to sell to pay for her care.
Olympus staff contacted by the Chronicle & Echo said they had been told not they could not talk about the matter to the press.
Five out of the six homes currently under threat; Ridgway House, Obelisk House, Boniface House, Southfields and Ecton Brook House, are situated in Northampton
The other home under threat is Evelyn Wright House, Daventry.
Currently more than 3,000 people have signed a petition asking the county council not to shut any of its homes.
One signatory, Penny Hobbs, of Daventry, said: “Its a disgraceful, vulnerable elderly people, should not be moved out of their local area perhaps to somewhere miles perhaps away from their families and friends, that would be stressful enough at any age but awful in your 80s or 90s.”
Mr Horton said it is not just the elderly residents who will suffer if moved into private accommodation.
At 64 himself and with sight problems he says he would struggle to visit his mother if she were moved to a home further away in the county.
“Some of the people at Southfields barely get any visitors as it is,” he said.
“If they were moved out to Corby or somewhere else, how are their sons and daughters gong to visit them?
“Some of them must be over 70 themselves.”
The consultation is likely to take between six and nine months.