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Closing care homes is just putting politics before people
Doncaster Council should hang their heads in shame. It is a fact we have a continual growth in our ageing population, therefore it is also a known fact that the need and demand for our services is also on the increase. Doncaster Council propose to cut vital services, closing all seven care homes across the borough, closing day centres for our vulnerable; ultimately forcing our elderly and infirm to leave their homes. At a drop in meeting on Saturday, the Mayor told me that the problem was that they could no longer afford to staff these homes and services, as the council pay their employees above and beyond the private sector. I then enquired about the possibility of a restructure of the running costs. At present all homes have now ceased taking in more elderly; was it not possible that existing employees keep their current contract terms and conditions, but once the doors were re-opened, and empty places taken and additional staff required, to issue new terms and contracts for new employees to reflect the tailored running costs, which could be implemented across the board. This way the situation could turn around, making homes and services viable and protecting our assets. The mayor told me this was impossible. “Trade unions would never allow it!” So there we have it. We have a council elected to serve the Doncaster people who prefer to scrap the majority of Doncaster’s much needed and vital services, closing day centres and forcing our elderly and infirm from their homes, to balance their books rather than consider a restructure of their running costs. Politics before people. The private sector also provides high quality care and employs many genuine carers, though admittedly on occasions both council and private homes have had their problems. However private homes have to buy and run these establishments. Doncaster Council already own the homes and land and yet are prepared to let these valuable assets go to the wall instead of building on the assets they already have. Doncaster Council would have you believe these homes are old and no longer fit for purpose; this is totally inaccurate. Doncaster Council state that significant improvement and considerable costly modification is needed. Oldfield House in Stainforth is a beautiful home with sizable bedrooms, hallways, communal areas, a newly refurbished kitchen and first floor accommodation. The home is well equipped and has first class management, carers and staff. I know as it is my uncle’s home. For a fairer, more public, consultation Doncaster people should be invited to visit the homes to see and make their own judgements regarding the standard of the homes’ buildings and design, seeing for themselves what Doncaster Council propose to scrap (after all scrapping assets affects us all). Doncaster Council are promoting Home Care. I understand, accept, agree and respect that there are many people who prefer to stay at home as long as possible; they must be assisted and supported appropriately for their personal needs. However the system in place that our council promotes is inadequate for both client and carer. Carers have multiple clients and tight deadlines. For example the majority of service providers allow approximately half hour slots per person at key times during the day and evening. This is essential help but it is not quality care, it is minimal assistance.
Christine Blackham, Stainforth
Need to reconsider
As a local citizen, I would like to ask the Mayor and Doncaster Council if they realise the damage their proposals to close council run care homes will cause to the elderly and disabled people who depend upon their services. The people who live in these care homes are human beings who have paid their taxes and served their community and country. How can we throw them out of their homes at the most vulnerable time in their lives? The emotional damage caused will be a serious detriment to their physical health. These elderly and vulnerable people are accustomed to their surroundings and especially the staff who take care of them, and in who they trust. I would therefore ask that they reconsider the decision to close these homes; we will all be old one day and will need these services ourselves. It will be very difficult to reverse this decision once the buildings, equipment and staff are lost. Oldfield House has recently had the kitchen area refurbished and the home in general is well equipped to service the needs of the residents. The home has recently refurbished six rooms to care for patients recently discharged from DRI; these could be utilised for permanent residents if required (Bentley are currently fulfilling this function). The option of home care is not suitable for all; the care is not 24 hours and people will be left unaided for up to 12 hours. In summation, I realise budgets are tight but I feel cuts should be made in other welfare areas affecting more able bodied younger people, who have the ability to work, not the elderly, who cannot.
Mrs P Young, Harpenden Drive, Hatfield
Your right to protest
Re: Doncaster Council meeting and protest outside the Civic Offices. All the councillors who attend this meeting (including the mayor) will be voting for £109 million of cuts over the next three years. This will mean, sooner or later, there will be closures of residential care homes, social education centres, children’s centres, libraries, youth clubs etc. It is not the fault of the Doncaster people that essential services are to be axed. All the main political bodies don’t oppose the rich getting richer or the poor getting poorer, and they don’t do anything about it. Please tell the local and national politicians how you feel by protesting at 1pm on February 20 (this afternoon). Although the ‘gagging law’ has been passed, you (at the moment) are still allowed to protest. Very soon there will be nothing left to protest about.
Doug Wright, Chantry Close, Cantley
It’s a risky gamble
Recently, Mayor Ros Jones has been in various wards chatting to residents. At one of these wards, I had a very interesting chat with Mayor Jones about a number of things regarding facts and figures. I have to say when I left I had grave concerns. DMBC are borrowing the £2.8 million to lend to the leisure company involved in a bowling alley at Adwick. No one can be 100 per cent sure this leisure company will succeed. If in the event the leisure company ceases to trade, DMBC will be left with this massive debt. Risky! However you look at this, it is an expensive gamble; a gamble that sensible people would not touch. It seems Mayor Jones finds it easy to be gung-ho in throwing other people’s money at a venture that has no sure guarantees. The fact is the Doncaster residents will suffer if this gamble goes wrong.
Joyce Hunt, Bessacarr
Action needed now
Doncaster has been lucky so far to avoid flooding, but luck will not always keep us safe. The water in the River Don needs to reach the River Humber quickly and safely. This is not likely to continue, in my opinion. Travelling over the past few years from Moss to Doncaster, Goole and Scunthorpe via Barnby Dun, Fishlake and Kirk Bramwith, I have noticed the width of the river Don getting progressively narrower and predictably the water level getting higher. I can’t be the only person who has noticed this. Sometimes bridges have been closed for safety reasons, but I have not seen any work to improve waterflow and the river’s capacity. Unless this is done flooding is inevitable. This is not a problem that could not be foreseen, it is just a question of when in the absence of prompt and effective action. Which will come first, action or reports in the Free Press of flooding from Barnby Dun northwards?
John Dobbin, Pinfold Lane, Moss