Row after staff at Nottinghamshire care home learn of closure date on social media

James Hince Court Care Home, Windsor Gardens, Carlton-in-Lindrick.
James Hince Court Care Home, Windsor Gardens, Carlton-in-Lindrick.

A row has erupted in Nottinghamshire County Council after staff and residents of a care home found about its planned closure on Twitter.

During last month’s full council meeting Councillor Stuart Wallace, chairman of the adult social care and public health committee, announced James Hince Court, in Carlton-in-Lindrick, would be closing in September.

The news was tweeted out by councillor Alan Rhodes, leader of the Labour party in the county, despite the fact neither the staff, residents nor the families of residents at the care home had been informed of the planned closure date.

Speaking this week, Councillor Rhodes said he sent the tweet in ‘good faith’, believing the correct protocols had been followed in regard to informing staff and residents of the home.

Has has since accused the Conservative-run council of treating staff and residents with “contempt” by announcing the closure in the way they did.

“I’m very angry about it,” he said.

“Some people found out that they were going to lose their jobs through social media, which is totally unacceptable, and drives a coach and horses through the council’s procedures in dealing with members of staff who are facing redundancy.

“The way in which it was announced, it treated those caring members of staff and the people in their care with contempt, in my opinion.

“It’s very embarrassing for me personally, but it’s not me that matters, it’s them, and the way they’ve found out about the fact that their place of employment is going to close in September. Obviously people are concerned and upset about it, and that’s why I’m describing this decision and the way it’s been carried through as callous.

“It’s an attempt at political point scoring by Councillor Wallace, who made the announcement when he shouldn’t have done. Because the proper procedures hadn’t been followed, and the approval for closure of the home is going to adult social care committee in April. So he made the announcement before the decision was made by the committee to pursue the closure of it.”

Councillor Rhodes said he disagreed entirely with the decision to close the home, adding: “It still provides good care for elderly people and people coming out of hospital who require respite care before they go home.”

However, in yet another twist, the Conservative group has defended the decision that has been taken – and say it dates back to a decision taken by the Labour council back in 2015, under the leadership of Councillor Rhodes himself.

“The decision to close James Hince Court and all of Nottinghamshire County Council’s other remaining care and support centres was taken in February 2015 by Councillor Alan Rhodes and his Labour administration,” Councillor Wallace said in a statement.

“The rationale for Labour’s decision was correct, that the centres had become outdated, too expensive to run and no longer fit for purpose.  They argued at the time that better accommodation could be provided elsewhere, and this would be in the best interests of the residents of these care centres, whilst saving £4.3 million to be spent on other social care priorities.

“The problem is Councillor Rhodes and his Labour colleagues tied the closure of the care centres to the opening of new extra care facilities nearby, and then failed to deliver those new facilities on time.

“They also ignored the fact many care and support centre residents had high levels of dependency and would never be suitable for transfer to semi-independent extra care anyway.

“In other words, Labour had a good policy in principle but made a complete mess of it in practice.  The Conservative and Mansfield Independent administration has been left to sort out that mess and we are making good progress.

“There are now only three remaining long-term residents living at James Hince Court and we will work with their families to help them move safely into alternative accommodation with minimal disruption.

“Under Labour’s original plan, James Hince Court was supposed to close in early 2018. We took the decision in public last March to delay the closure date until at least July 2019, and now we are expecting the centre to be empty by September 2019.”