Ward councillor ‘puzzled and concerned’ as Ipswich’s Anglesea Heights shuts over lack of demand

Anglesea Heights in Ipswch. Picture: LAUREN DE BOISE

Anglesea Heights in Ipswch. Picture: LAUREN DE BOISE - Credit: Archant

A ward councillor concerned about the closure of one of Ipswich’s largest care homes has said she is “puzzled” by the lack of demand for its services – as fellow health leaders claim they are seeing a spike in older people needing care, not a fall.

Inga Lockington, Liberal Democrat councillor for St Margaret’s and Westgate, made the comments as health chiefs announced the BUPA-run care home Anglesea Heights would be shutting its doors.

Bosses revealed on Tuesday afternoon that they would be closing the service over a “lack of local demand” – and explained that of the 120 beds they had available, only 40 were occupied.

But Mrs Lockington said the announcement has confused and concerned her, adding: “I find it very puzzling because the message I am getting from residents is that there is not enough space in care homes for their relatives.

“If there really is a lack of demand I think the question is why is there.

Councillor Inga Lockington. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Councillor Inga Lockington. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

“We hear all the time about the social care crisis and I have had a lot of people contact me concerned about finding a place for their loved ones to live.”

Operating from within a Victorian listed building which has become one of the town’s most recognisable sites, Anglesea Heights was put into special measures in 2016.

A cap was put on the number of residents it could admit, but this was lifted when the CQC re-inspected the home and gave it a ‘requires improvement’ rating.

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Staff, residents and their families were told about the impending closure of the home on Tuesday afternoon.

Chiefs said new homes are being found for those currently living there, and that the service will not shut completely until everyone has somewhere to live.

Mike Parris also works in the care home industry in Suffolk.

He said that in his experience, demand for beds has risen, and added: “If anything, demand has increased.

“I think it will continue to increase as well with the ageing population in Suffolk, the east in general and also nationally.”

However, BUPA bosses said the numbers are clear, adding that the low number of residents clearly shows a lack of demand.

They also dispute claims that the quality of service provided was an issue.

A spokesman added: “The team have made significant improvements at the home recently and have been waiting for a follow up CQC inspection.”