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Eccles Fold battle lost

There will be no last minute reprieve for much valued facility

THE battle to save six short-term respite beds at Eccles Fold Resource Centre has finally been lost with campaigners accepting that there will be no last minute reprieve for the much valued facility.

The centre was due to close in March as part of a general review of residential care across the county which involved shutting four other care homes. However, at a packed meeting in February carers protested that the arrangements for alternative respite care were not satisfactory. Following comments about the provision and what was thought to be an unrealistic closure date, Craig Jacques-Newton, group manager for adult care, said: "In September I thought there were satisfactory, reasonable and appropriate arrangements and that by and large people were content but this is not the case. I suggest we close it at the end of June." 

Campaigners used the three month reprieve to lobby councillors about the closure but at a second meeting on May 25 they were told by Mr Jacques-Newton that discussions had reached the end of the road. He said: "Between this and the last meeting the decision was reviewed by members and it will close on June 30th. We do not have the power to reverse that decision."

Carers were told that alternative beds were available at Goyt Valley House in New Mills, Whitestones in Chapel and in a number of private care homes. However, people were concerned about continuity of care for their loved ones if they were moved around to different homes and felt that Whitestones, which caters for people with Alzheimer's, was not a suitable environment. One carer who looks after her 97-year-old mother said: "I don't want my mum to be in a home where there is challenging behaviour. It is a safeguarding issue, there is going to be an accident."

Carers expressed anger that no cabinet members were present at this meeting to explain their decision and as a result another meeting was held on June15 where  Coun. Paul Smith, deputy leader and cabinet member for adult social care said: "We have come here as a mark of respect for you. We thought it would be important and useful for us as cabinet members to give you the opportunity to speak directly to us about why you find the facilities being offered not suitable."

Anne-Marie Hallam who cares for her mother who has bereavement induced delirium expressed concern that moving her mother around would be bad for her mental health: "She said: "There will be no continuity of care, Everywhere is full so I will have to move my mum around to have a couple of months in each place which would be very unsettling for her and could cause her to relapse."

Councillors stressed that they believed there was sufficient capacity in the locality to meet everyone's needs and that block booking of beds in the private sector might be an option. Carers were also told that they could use Meadow View Community Care Centre in Darley Dale and the council would help with transport costs.

High Peak Borough Councillor Kath Sizeland who has campaigned tirelessly to save Eccles Fold from closure said: "I am very disappointed in the decision to close the respite and re-enablement beds at Eccles Fold. We still feel not enough provision is available to replace the beds. However, Paul Smith did say there would be help with transport costs as some people will have to travel further. I would like to thank everyone who supported and fought for this highly regarded facility."