Ipswich: Asterbury Place care home delayed arrival of new residents to ensure staff were fully trained

The new Asterbury Court residential home in Ipswich.

The new Asterbury Court residential home in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

A new multi-million pound care home in Ipswich had to delay taking new residents during the summer as it trained new staff, it has emerged.

Asterbury Place in the Chantry area of town is one of the first new homes to be built for Care UK which took over Suffolk County Council’s care homes last year.

It opened with a fanfare in early July, taking in residents from the former county council homes at Hawthorn Drive in Ipswich and Angel Court in Hadleigh.

It had also been due to take in private-sector residents – but this step was delayed because of the need to train new staff.

Labour opposition leader at Suffolk County Council, Sandy Martin, said many experienced staff from the former homes had not moved to Asterbury Place because they would have had to take a substantial pay cut.

That had left a shortage – and was bad for the residents who had transferred.

He said: “Many of those who live there have dementia and find it very difficult to adapt to change. They are in a new home and a new room, and they don’t even have any familiar faces around them.”

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Rachel Gilbert, regional operations director for Care UK, said: “Admissions to any of our new homes are always managed on a staggered basis to ensure that every resident is given the best possible care and support to settle in.

“For a short time in the summer we did stop moving any new residents into Asterbury Place. This was after all the residents from Hawthorn Drive and Angel Court care homes had already successfully moved into their new home.

“This pause ensured that our team was able to provide the best possible care to the existing residents and for some additional recruits to complete their training.

“We’ve opened several new care homes over the past couple of years, and this pause is something that we quite often do to ensure that we can deliver consistently high quality care.”

Many care assistants had transferred to Asterbury Place, however Ms Gilbert said: “Many chose to take the generous voluntary redundancy package based on local authority terms that they were offered so we did have to recruit new team members.”

Care UK was confident that Asterbury Place had sufficient well-trained, compassionate team members to safely care for the number of residents at the home. It is now accepting new residents again.

The company’s pay rates vary depending on the role and a person’s level of experience but are competitive for the sector.

Ms Gilbert added: “Pay levels in the care sector inevitably reflect the amount of funding which local authorities are able to afford but, in Care UK homes, we always pay above the national minimum wage and carry out an annual pay review to ensure salaries are competitive.”

She said that where roles were identical to those in the older homes, salaries would be the same.