Ecton Brook care home closure edges nearer despite opposition fears

Ecton Brook House care home has been earmarked for closure under county council plans.
Ecton Brook House care home has been earmarked for closure under county council plans.

Moves to close Ecton Brook care home in Northampton took another step forward yesterday as county council cabinet members approved the launch of a consultation into axing the facility.

Last week the authority announced its five-year elderly “accommodation strategy”, which puts greater emphasis on caring for older people in their own homes rather than residential facilities and introduce a “housing needs assessment form” to judge what type of accommodation a person might need.

As part of the strategy, the council plans to shut the 1970s Ecton Brook House care home which is operated by Olympus Care and currently looks after 34 people. It claims the move will save £150,000 in next year’s budget alone.

But at the cabinet meeting yesterday, seven opposition councillor voiced their concern over the strategy.

Councillor Mary Butcher, (Lab, Oakley) that she spoke to a man whose father was a resident of Ecton Brook.

“He said to me, please don’t close the care home,” Councillor Butcher said. “I can’t afford to put my dad anywhere else.”

Ecton Brook residents will be moved to accommodation elsewhere in the county and the council says, if the new care home placement costs more than the authority’s standard pay rate, it will make up the difference.

The county council had originally proposed to shut two Olympus care homes, but decided not to axe a second home at the 11th hour.

Councilor Adam Collyer (UKIP, Daventry West) said: “That doesn’t imply there was much of a strategy behind this.”

He also said he feared what would happen to the Ecton Brook facility itself once it is vacated in early 2017.

The council has now closed five of the 10 homes it operated back in 2009. The Grange, which closed in Daventry in 2013, still stands undeveloped.

Cabinet member for adult social care Councillor Suresh Patel (Con, Duston East) said the elderly accommodation strategy represents a “bold and courageous” decision by the Conservative administration, which he claims will increase the options available to elderly people over the next five years.

Councillor Heather Smith (Con, Oundle) spoke in favour of the plans by saying: “I do feel it is time for us as an authority to move away from moving people into residential care.

“People prefer to stay at home, but they would prefer to stay at home in a safe way.”

She added that residential care homes will still be needed for elderly people with advanced needs.

But she said; “The vast majority of the care homes in Northamptonshire are provided by the private sector.

“I think it is only right that we consider that it is cheaper to place a person in a private nursing home then to put someone in one of our own homes.”

The county council will now launch a consultation on its elderly accommodation strategy, including the plans to shut Ecton Brook, over the next few weeks.