Future of Exmouth care homes unclear

PUBLISHED: 11:48 14 December 2009 | UPDATED: 12:27 10 June 2010

HEALTH chiefs have failed to confirm whether jobs will be lost and residents forced to move out of three Exmouth care homes amid plans to privatise an NHS-run service. The Lodge, in Exeter Road, as well as Forton House and Cornerstones, in St Johns Road,

HEALTH chiefs have failed to confirm whether jobs will be lost and residents forced to move out of three Exmouth care homes amid plans to privatise an NHS-run service.

The Lodge, in Exeter Road, as well as Forton House and Cornerstones, in St Johns Road, are homes for people with learning difficulties, currently run by Premier Living Service for the NHS Partnership Trust.

Premier Living is to cease operating next year and taken over by a private sector provider which could signal their closure and carers jobs.

Mark Bell, 42, lives in Forton House. His sister, Joanne Brown, of Roseberry Road, has been waiting for more than five months for news on what will happen to her sibling.

She is worried Mark could be moved into temporary accommodation and out of the town.

Joanne said: "Why mend something that isn't broken? Mark has been in Forton for 15 years, he is happy and stabilised.

"Moving him to a potential new house with fresh faces - it's going to be terrible."

As well as learning disabilities, Joanne said Mark suffered from epilepsy, challenging and sometimes aggressive behaviour, and hyperactivity.

She praised the structured care plan currently in place at Forton House and said it catered well for her brother's conditions.

"The staff there are absolutely fantastic. He can go out shopping with the carers and everyone knows him.

"Without the continuation of care, Mark will possibly regress and the hard work and dedication of his care team will have been in vain."

Carolyn Elliott, assistant director of Devon Learning Disability Health and Social Care Partnership, said the NHS was not the best-equipped provider of long-term residential services for people with learning disabilities.

She added: "The direction of travel across the country, and recognised best practice within the Valuing People initiative, is that services should be delivered by a range of specialist providers in social care settings.

"This enables them to be tailored to meet individual needs.

"Many of the people being supported by Premier Living have severe learning disability needs and often have complex physical needs too.

"The process of matching these needs to a new provider of care and support is clearly incredibly important and it can take some time to complete.

"We cannot be certain about the future use of any of the homes currently operated by Premier Living until the matching process has been completed.

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