Care home closures to make way for �8m Gorleston dementia site
PLANS to build an �8m 'super care home' in Gorleston are moving forward, with three smaller care homes closing to make way for it.
Elderly residents at the affected care homes in Yarmouth, Gorleston and Ormesby were asked about plans, and nearly two thirds of pensioners at Clere House, Ormesby, objected.
But bosses at county council-owned Norse Care say plans will progress, with the homes set to shut after summer 2014 when the Peterhouse Avenue facility opens.
The proposed 88-bed 'super care home' beside Peterhouse Primary School aims to solve the growing problem of care for dementia sufferers.
It is part of a 15 year plan to overhaul care for the elderly, and aims to provide high quality, modern facilities for residents and staff including large bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms, a range of communal areas and a safe garden area.
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People at 38-bed Magdalen House, in Gorleston, are positive about plans, as are people at 32-bed Mildred Stone House in Yarmouth.
Both specialist dementia homes were built in the 1960s, have no en suite facilities and bedrooms are around half the size of those at the proposed super care home.
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But consultation at 22-bed Clere House, in Ormesby - which does not house many dementia patients - revealed nearly two thirds of residents opposed the plans.
They felt plans would not benefit existing residents - though agreed they would bolster future provision - and suggested either investing in the home or stopping admissions until the home was no longer needed,
Bosses say these are not viable options, as Clere House is too small for en suite facilities.
The Norse Care board has announced it will close the three homes and start the planning process to build the super care home, planned to open in summer 2014.
Bosses hope to avoid compulsory redundancies by moving most staff to the super care home or other Norse Care facilities.
Tony Williams, Norse board member and county councillor, said: 'I know the prospect of leaving Magdalen House, Mildred Stone House and Clere House may be daunting to some residents, and this came through in the consultation.
'I want to reassure residents and their relatives that staff and managers at Norse Care understand these concerns and will be providing a great deal of support to them over the next two years.
'I would encourage people to come to us to discuss any worries they have around these changes.'
Norse Care is offering all residents a place in the new home, or help in moving to other suitable nearby accommodation.
Residents at Clere House will have a number of options available to them including moving to a wing of the new development or transferring to the nearest other Norse Care residential homes, Sydney House in Stalham or Springdale in Brundall.
Alternatively residents could transfer to one of the six independent care homes within a three-mile radius of Ormesby St Margaret including those in the nearby village of Hemsby.
The outcome of the planning application is not expected to be known until autumn this year.
Consultation on plans began in November last year and concluded in February.
Residents, relatives and staff at the three homes as well as interested groups were involved in the process, and in total more than 60 separate responses were received.
At Clere House, just eight of the 21 respondents welcomed the opportunity to move to the super care home - with 13 wanting Clere House to remain open.
As part of the planning process, Norse Care will undertake further consultation with the community in the part of Gorleston in which the company proposes to build the new care home. The plans to transform and replace care home provision in the Great Yarmouth borough are part of a wider county council strategy to modernise care accommodation in Norfolk.