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Full council – debate on Arthur Clark, Albert Road and Day Services

I have just got back from full council at which I was asked a number of questions about Arthur Clark, Albert Road and the future of Day Services.  I also received a petition and moved a motion.  All of this below is in the public domain already but often it’s hard for people to find as they aren’t routinely put online, so for completeness and ease of reference for interested people I reproduce them here:

Thank you Mr Trinder for presenting the petition.
As lead councillor I will shortly be moving a motion in response to this, but before I do I would like to say that I am sure no councillor in this chamber would consider changes to services in day centres or care homes lightly.  The Arthur Clarke Care Home has received a lot of praise from residents and their families and it is a tribute to the staff that work there that it is held in such high regard by those residents.  Similarly we know that the services provided by the Albert Road Day Centre are highly valued and staff deserve real praise for the service they provide.  I have also read many comments on the petition that reflect that people really want to see services for older people in their local area, in particular of course for those signing this petition, in North Reading. 
I can personally assure you that all these comments are things I will consider very carefully, and I am sure that others will too.  Decisions will not be taken tonight, and so I will be moving a motion that asks the committee making this decision, next week, to take into account this petition along with the other evidence in making decisions on the Arthur Clark Care home, the Albert Road Day Centre and the future of Day services more generally.
This council notes the petition and the many comments that accompany it.  This council recognises the affection that these services are held in by service users and their families and the desire from people in Caversham for locally based services, and the genuine concern felt by many regarding the prospect of changes. 
The council also notes:
·         the results of the consultations.
·         the results of the independent condition survey
·         that there are full reports being presented to Adults’, Children’s and Education Services Committee on 1st July

This council therefore resolves to ask the Adults’, Children’s and Education Services Committee to take into account the views expressed in this petition along with the other information and evidence that is before it on 1st July when a decision is taken”
COUNCIL MEETING                                                                      25 JUNE 2013
QUESTION NO. 3 in accordance with Standing Order No.9
Frances Trinder to ask the Lead Councillor for Adult Social Care:
Arthur Clark Care Home
Why have any and all possibilities not been explored to save a much needed local facility?
REPLY by Councillor Eden (Lead Councillor for Adult Social Care):
As councillors we understand the importance of the Arthur Clark Care Home to residents and their families, and the value they place on the care they receive there. We also understand the reluctance of many residents to move from a facility they know and value to somewhere new and unfamiliar. These are very important issues and I am sure that all councillors in the chamber would agree that this is not something we would consider lightly or unless there was very good reason.
I personally am considering all practical options, consistent with delivering high-quality care and ensuring the health and well-being of residents now and in the future.
At the committee meeting next week the committee will consider the following options:
  • Closing the home temporarily and only undertaking work associated with maintaining health and safety. This would require residents to be moved twice and would not lead to an upgrade in facilities, so for example residents would return to the majority of rooms being below 12 msq and one bathroom between five residents.
  • Closing the home temporarily while taking the opportunity to carry out an upgrade to bring it up to current standards. Again, this would require residents to move twice, it would lead to a smaller number of rooms available at the end of the process.
  • Moving residents to alternative accommodation and closing the home, something that many residents and families are concerned about.
  • Allowing the community to dwindle as residents moved on elsewhere before undertaking works. As well as the obvious change to the atmosphere of the home, this carries the risk of an emergency, unplanned closure as stated in the independent survey of June 2013 some of the remedial work required is due to faults that have “a high failure risk which could result in building closure”.
Other options that have been considered were the possibility of selling the home as a going concern o attempting to convert the Albert Road building to residential use.
All these options are covered in more detail in the report to next week’s committee and as I’m sure you will agree none of them are a simple solution to the situation.
COUNCIL MEETING                                                                      25 JUNE 2013
QUESTION NO. 4 in accordance with Standing Order No.9
Frances Trinder to ask the Lead Councillor for Adult Social Care:
Arthur Clark Care Home Working Group
Will you form a working group of willing councillors and volunteers to keep Arthur Clark Care Home open?
REPLY by Councillor Eden (Lead Councillor for Adult Social Care):
Answering this question directly ‘yes’ or ‘no’ of course must wait until the decision on the future of the home will be taken by Councillors at a meeting of the Adult Social Care, Children’s Services and Education Committee on 1st July.
However, once a decision is made I would welcome councillors and volunteers agreeing to be involved in implementing that decision.  The same applies to the reports discussing the future of Day Services.
QUESTION NO. 5 in accordance with Standing Order No.9
Elaine Brown to ask the Lead Councillor for Adult Social Care:
Arthur Clark Care Home
At the meeting on June 6th at the Albert Road Day Centre, Avril Wilson and Suzanne Westhead agreed that an external estimate for the essential work at The Arthur Clarke Home should be undertaken. Has this been undertaken and if so what is the quotation?
REPLY by Councillor Eden (Lead Councillor for Adult Social Care):
As you may be aware the council has commissioned an independent conditions survey for Arthur Clark and Albert Road Day Centre.  This included a detail electrical and mechanical inspection of the property.  In order to be transparent the whole report has been published in the papers for next week’s meeting, and I have a copy of these that you can take away and are available for any one to read.
This survey was undertaken by Faithful and Gould and to remedy urgent defects they have given a cost of £720,000 (nb this figure is less than that in the independent survey as that includes urgent work required for Albert Road) In addition there are works to be completed over the next 5 years with an associated cost of £460,000.  This does include an estimate of the cost of removing of asbestos but does not include a range of other costs including, furniture, kitchen fixtures and fittings and the cost of relocating residents while the works is carried out, as is stated in appendix F of the surveyor’s report.
This figure is for the minimum required to ensure the home remains safe and would not include changes to the home layout or modernisation, for example it would not include changing the ratio of toilets, which is currently 1 per 5 residents or changing the size of the rooms, most of which are currently below 12 m sq.  However it does include works that the surveyor considers to be so essential that the building is at ‘risk of closure’.
A number of reports had been commissioned by the council over the years to assess and monitor the quality of the building.  Below are the reports which have been commissioned since 2006
  • In 2006 an independent condition survey  was completed ,
  • Nov 2009 a fire risk assessment was completed,
  • April 2011 an asbestos survey
  • March 2012 assessments of improvement  works required for Arthur Clark
  • June 2013 independent conditions survey
In addition to this an estimate of costs completed in January 2013 by the council property service team. This is how officers of the council estimated the £1m building costs to refurbish Arthur Clark including an upgrade to the facilities.  This figure is has been updated following the most recent independent conditions survey to be at least £1.1 million.  This does not include remedial works required over the next 5 years, which would increase this figure to £1.5 million. 
This does not include the necessary cost of moving residents into temporary accommodation for a period of several months, at real disruption to their care.
COUNCIL MEETING                                                                      25 JUNE 2013
QUESTION NO. 6 in accordance with Standing Order No.9
Susan McIntyre to ask the Lead Councillor for Adult Social Care:
Arthur Clark Care Home
I have been given a list from the council regarding other homes that have beds available if Arthur Clark shuts. None of these homes on the list are suitable for my mother, because one of the reasons Arthur Clark closing is due to lack of bathrooms and en-suites, however 80% of the homes on the list neither have these facilities. So why should we move her to somewhere that is not offering her anything better? Also the majority of these homes are for people with dementia, mental health issues, and challenging behaviour, my mother has Parkinsons so again this would not be a good place for her to live. There are two homes that my family have looked at one in Emmer Green the other in Sonning Common both of these are not on your list. I will NOT put my mother in a home that the council are dictating to us.
REPLY by Councillor Eden (Lead Councillor for Adult Social Care):
If a decision is made next week to close the Arthur Clark Care Home officers the option given in the report would be for residents to be offered alternative accommodation with en suite facilities, in homes that are appropriate for their individual requirements.  So from the point of view of the individuals currently living in Arthur Clarke en-suite appropriate accommodation would be offered.
We are committed to providing high-quality care for frail, elderly people across the Borough and we have no intention of compromising on that position, and one thing I can guarantee is that no councillor in this chamber would agree to making elderly residents homeless.   90% of the accommodation that the council provides to those that are funded by the council is in the private or voluntary sector already, so the council have good experience and awareness of the homes in this market.
From a more general point of view many of the residential care homes in Reading have a mixture of rooms, often they have a mix of some rooms with en suite facilities and some without.  I have already publically said that as a council, who commissions these services, we will work with and push these providers to increase the en suite facilities provided in all residential care homes.  The vast majority of nursing homes in Reading already have en-suite facilities and the extra-care homes have private bathrooms, kitchens and living areas.
Regarding fees for any resident whose financial resources fall below £23,000, funding of care becomes the responsibility of the council regardless of the situation.  For residential accommodation, this is managed under the Department of Health guidance – Charging for Residential Accommodation Guide (CRAG). Anyone with less than £23,250 in capital would be eligible for support from a local Authority but would be subject to a financial assessment in terms of the contribution to that cost required from the resident.
I understand the concern regarding this from residents who are self funding and their families and if the decision were to close I can promise you I would be happy arrange meetings with senior officers to discuss individual situations.
Can I just add on a personal level that I do understand the concerns that you and others are expressing about the proposal to close Arthur Clark. I know that residents feel comfortable there, value the care they receive, and are reluctant to move to a different home which will be unfamiliar to them.  I also know that the period of uncertainty is particularly stressful.
Many people have responded to the consultation and I have heard people’s views at first hand including at two consultation meetings. As councillors of all parties I am sure we will fully take into account these views as part of the decision-making process.
There are a number of practical issues that also need to be considered, including the structural condition of the building, which requires attention to ensure it remains safe.

As responsible Councillors, we will take into account all the evidence before us. Overall, we are considering all practical options for Arthur Clark and whatever decision is reached on 1 July, it will be taken with the best interests of Reading residents foremost in Councillors’ minds and the meeting will be public. 

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