THE St Helens Council Leader yesterday lashed out at what she considers scaremongering over residential care homes.
Faced with growing public concern, Councillor Marie Rimmer broke her silence on the controversial plans to change the use of five local council-run residential homes.
A statement by Coun Rimmer said that she was extremely annoyed over the wide range of, what she believed to be, deliberately misleading information currently being circulated around the Borough.
In March it was reported that Social Services had drawn up a modernisation agenda that would affect five homes and their 200 elderly residents.
Council bosses insist that long-term care of the elderly can be provided by the independent sector, but that a decision over the strategy for change has not been made.
Coun Rimmer said: "It is an absolute disgrace that people are using this for their own reasons at the expense of the well being and peace of mind of care home residents, their families and friends."
She added: "No decisions have yet been made over proposals to close any homes. We are currently consulting with residents, relatives, friends and staff of existing services in a bid to deliver social services that meet future needs."
Residents and relatives were told of the cost-cutting package in January at a series of meetings at the council's six existing residential homes.
Tom Hill, leader of the Relatives Action Group for the Elderly (Rage) in St Helens, said: "We are talking about the eviction of elderly and frail people and there are genuine concerns that the council is not telling the whole story. They are hiding behind a bland statement, saying they are in consultation, but that has fuelled speculation. Many believe the proposals are a done deal.
"We are suspicious that the council is trying to put off revealing their decision until after the elections."
If proposals were given the go ahead, five of the six homes, would be converted into community support centres, extra care housing or existing supportive housing provided by Helena Housing.
Opponents of the proposals, fear that the 200 elderly folk who stay in the council's homes, could face a traumatic move.
Richard Turner-Hall, the former chairman for St Helens' independent homes watchdog, said that the private sector won't be able to cope with the influx of residents from the care homes.
On Monday, a banner was draped over Windle Bridge above the East Lancashire Road, which read 'Save Our Care Homes'.
Mr Hill added: "It is proof of the strength of feeling in St Helens about these proposals. Nothing has been organised, it is all spontaneous. Both the banner and the actions of Reverend Janet Roberts of St Paul's Church, who collected a petition opposing the plans, were individual acts of protest."
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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