Almost half of Suffolk care homes closed
ALMOST half of care homes for the elderly in Suffolk have closed in the past five years, The Evening Star can reveal.Stark new figures show that since 2002 a total of 114 care homes in the county have shut for business with the situation being described as a potential “care crisis” by a Suffolk MP.
ALMOST half of care homes for the elderly in Suffolk have closed in the past five years, The Evening Star can reveal.
Stark new figures show that since 2002 a total of 114 care homes in the county have shut for business with the situation being described as a potential “care crisis” by a Suffolk MP.
There are now 142 older people care homes registered with Suffolk County Council - a drop of around 45 per cent.
The raft of closures emerged as a result of a parliamentary question tabled by West Suffolk MP Richard Spring.
Mr Spring said: “By asking this question I'm getting a pretty clear picture of what I think is going to be a care crisis in the next decade when you link it to what's happening in the NHS.
“I'm concerned about seeing an emerging number of problems - there has been a dramatic cut in the number of beds available for NHS patients in Suffolk.
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“People are put out into the community more than ever while at the same time the number of care homes is reducing.
“What we are beginning to see is the emergence of a very considerable long-term problem.”
The Department of Health, which issued the figures, does not keep explicit records on the number of care homes that have closed but gave the number of 114 based on how many have “deregistered” during the period.
As well as including permanent closures, this category also covers temporary closures for reasons such as refurbishment or a new manager being appointed.
However Graham Newman, responsible for adult services at Suffolk County Council, said the vast majority of the 114 were likely to be permanent closures as care homes generally refurbish on a gradual basis so as not to disrupt residents.
Mr Newman said he was surprised by figure but feels that it can partly be attributed to changes in the way the elderly are cared for.
Suffolk County Council is keen to house those who do not need excessive amounts of care in sheltered housing schemes, he said.
Meanwhile he suggested many of the homes closing may be small operations.
Mr Newman said: “We are working with Suffolk Association of Care Providers.
“They know what the demand is and we liaise with them.
“We are tending to place less people in standard residential care - most of these are people with very critical service needs where nursing is needed.
“We try to encourage sheltered housing, for those who are more able, and we have produced a number of schemes in the recent past.
“More than 120 flats have been built in the past couple of years.”
Have you been affected by the closure of a care home? Did you run a care home which you decided to close? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@ eveningstar.co.uk