A CONSULTATION has been launched on the proposed closure of two residential care homes deemed “no longer financially viable”.

In an announcement today, (Wednesday, February 28) Somerset Care said they are proposing the closure of Sunnymeade in Chard and Critchill Court in Frome in April 2024.

Somerset Care met with colleagues, residents, and their families at these two care homes today to share this news with them in person, and to officially launch a consultation on the proposed closures.

The two care homes, due to their “dated and restrictive layouts, high running costs, and repair requirements”, are no longer financially viable, Somerset Care said.

Jobs at the two care homes are at risk of redundancies, but “the purpose of the consultation, launched today, is to ascertain whether there are ways of avoiding redundancies,” Somerset Care also said.

A Somerset Care’s statement read: “It is with sadness that Somerset Care is today launching a consultation on the proposed closure of two of its residential care homes in April 2024 – Critchill Court in Frome and Sunnymeade in Chard.

“We have engaged with Somerset Council (our care commissioner and landlord of both properties), UNISON (our recognised trade union), and the Care Quality Commission (our industry regulators) about this proposal.

“We will do everything possible to support all impacted residents and colleagues during this period of consultation.

“Critchill Court and Sunnymeade were built to meet the care requirements and living standards of the 1970-1980s, and are regrettably unable to keep pace with the increasingly complex care requirements of 2024 and beyond.

“The sad truth is that their dated and restrictive layouts, high running costs, and repair and maintenance requirements mean that they are no longer financially viable, environmentally sustainable, or fit to safely meet the care needs of the future.

“Somerset Care is not immune to the financial challenges faced by the wider care sector.

“The much-publicised chronic underfunding of the adult social care sector on a national level, along with the financial emergency declared by Somerset Council, means that the Local Authority care fees we receive do not meet the real cost of delivering the care which we are being asked to provide.

“In addition, our own operating and maintenance costs, energy, and food bills, have all materially increased.

“This leaves us with no choice but to make difficult decisions to ensure the financial security and long-term sustainability of Somerset Care, and, more importantly, the safety and quality of the services which we deliver.

“We are truly sorry that we have been left with no alternative but to propose the closure of these care homes.

“As a not-for-profit care provider without any shareholders, any income generated is reinvested into the care services we provide.

“We must do the right thing and make future-proof financial decisions so that we can keep our long-term commitment to supporting the people of Somerset with the care they need to live the life they choose.

“We have secured the assistance of the Somerset Council Adult Social Care Team to independently assess the care needs of all residents at these homes.

“Where care requirements can be safely and effectively fulfilled within an alternative Somerset Care residential setting, we will gladly support individuals to transition and settle into their new homes.

“Unfortunately, the jobs of all colleagues who work at these homes are at risk of redundancy.

“The purpose of the consultation, launched today, is to ascertain whether there are ways of avoiding redundancies.

“If redundancies become necessary, we will consult on opportunities for redeployment.

“We value our people, and the success of Somerset Care over the last three decades is due to their collective contribution and commitment.

“Somerset Care remains committed to its long-term strategy of quality, efficiency, and growth.

“By taking the responsible decision to reinvest in modern, well-equipped care homes, we can evolve and grow our care offering to meet future care needs and ensure a robust business that is better able to support our colleagues and customers for years to come.”