Elderly care homes face closure in shake-up

An elderly woman being visited in her home by an occupational therapist
Image caption Councils are aiming to support elderly people to continue living in their own homes

Care homes in the south Wales valleys face closure as a council aims to help elderly people live more independently.

Rhondda Cynon Taf is consulting over £50m plans to replace its care homes with blocks of apartments whose residents will be supported.

Consultants have recommended closing all 11 council-run homes, but the authority wants to keep some open to allow choice and more specialist care.

A union leader welcomed the investment, but wanted assurances over jobs.

The first of six so-called "extra care" schemes, agreed in 2017, is already underway in Aberaman and will provide 40 apartments, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The target is to offer 300 places, slightly fewer than the 322 beds currently provided across the council's care homes.

'Duty to prepare'

A decision has yet to be taken on how many care homes should close, but the authority admitted it was lagging behind other councils in Wales in shifting towards more community-based options.

Geraint Hopkins, the cabinet member for adult community services, told councillors on Wednesday they had "a duty to prepare the way for future generations".

But he added: "There is a requirement that we retain a presence within the care market.

"We have a very talented staff workforce that we need to work with as well."

Pauline Jarman, leader of the Plaid Cymru opposition group, called for the consultation process to be "robust, impartial and non-judgemental".

She insisted "that the people are not only heard but listened to", saying the council-run care homes had "an excellent reputation".

Peter Crews, branch secretary for the public sector union Unison, said it supported the plan but would not accept any compulsory redundancies.

"No services can stand still," he said.

"There needs to be change but change for the right reason."

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