Decision made on future of Selsey care home run by county council

A county council-run home in Selsey for patients who require short-term residential care after leaving hospital is to close.

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 5:47 pm

During a meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday (November 16), West Sussex councillors agreed that Marjorie Cobby House would close its doors in the spring with the building declared surplus to requirements.

The actual closing date will be decided by Keith Hinkley, director of adult social services, but is pencilled in for March 31 2022.

A consultation into the closure attracted comments from more than 170 people, with more than three-quarters disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with the closure.

Councillor Donna Johnson is opposed to the closure of Marjorie Cobby House, a West Sussex County Council run care home. Pic S Robards SR2111161 SUS-211116-112726001

And a cross-party Task & Finish Group, set up to examine the proposals, raised concerns about the timing of the closure and the accuracy of some of the information in the report.

But Mr Hinkley said: “The service is under-utilised, alternative provision is available and the current arrangements do not provide best value for money.”

The meeting was told that, on average, fewer than half of the 34 rooms in the home had been occupied over the past few years.

As for the building, it was deemed not suitable for people with more complex needs – unless a significant investment was made.

Marjorie Cobby House, a West Sussex County Council run care home. Pic S Robards SR2111161 SUS-211116-112852001

Presenting feedback from the Task & Finish Group, Garry Wall, chairman of the Health & Adult Social Care scrutiny committee, said the group felt closure ‘was not the most sensible option’.

He wondered if ‘a degree of limited investment’ would be worthwhile ‘when service pressure is so severe and the future uncertain’.

The group recommended the closure be deferred for at least six months ‘to allow for winter pressures to be fully understood’.

Mr Wall added that this could be even longer ‘should the pressures within the service remain or alternative quality arrangements prove to be unavailable’.

The council has a priority commitment to support people to live independently for longer, minimising the need for long-term services while making the best use of resources.

A spokesman said this included moving away from ‘costly under-used’ residential and day centre buildings to ‘developing support closer to where people live, including in their own homes, maximising the capacity to support vulnerable people’.

Amanda Jupp, cabinet member for adults services, told the meeting: “The adult social care budget is constrained, We need to make better use of our resources. We need to make sure we provide value for money.”

Pointing out that the council has a block contract for services with Shaw Healthcare – and that places were available – she added: “It makes absolute sense to use those and not to waste money.

“We will continue to support our residents. We will make sure that they have individual assessments and they will be signposted and supported to the right care.”

 The closure will save the council around £800,000.

Liberal Democrat councillors said they were ‘incensed’ by the decision, saying it made ‘a mockery of scrutiny’.

Midhurst councillor Dr Kate O’Kelly said the group would be calling in the decision.

Previously, Donna Johnson, Local Alliance county councillor for Selsey, has questioned reducing the number of intermediate car beds as their lack increases the risk of failed hospital discharges and ‘revolving door’ admissions leading to even more pressure on acute beds.

She suggested reliance on the private sector to provide extra bed capacity is ‘at best a very risky strategy given the sector’s preference for longer-term residents’.

She added: “Yes, Marjorie Cobby needs some modernisation but, closing a facility with potential to service an important need within our communities, especially at this very difficult time is counter-productive.

“The primary functions of the type of care Marjorie Cobby can deliver are to prevent admission or facilitate discharge, why then, at a time when there is so much pressure on acute beds are we putting all our faith in the ability of the private sector to deliver this extra capacity?

“Why are we not investing to ensure that short term care and reablement can always be delivered thereby reducing the pressure on hospital beds and improving outcomes for patients?”