THE closure of four care homes in Gloucestershire, including one in Westbury-on-Severn, was approved by councillors despite opposition from residents, their families and staff.

The decision follows a six-week consultation on plans to close the homes, including Westbury Court in the Forest, which are run by the Orders of St John Care Trust.

Opposition councillors described the decision as “disappointing” and said the closures will cause distress to many.

The other homes set to be decommissioned are Bohanam House in Gloucester, Orchard House in Bishop’s Cleeve and The Elms in Stonehouse.

Council leaders say they will support residents to move to alternative placements as necessary.

Adult social care commissioning cabinet member Carole Allaway-Martin (Con, Coleford) said it was a really tough decision to make.

She explained the proposals were not only about decommissioning care homes but also about developing a business case to move the market on.

She said this would allow them to have more specific care in the right places for people to live as near to their communities as they can.

“The consultation process has taken six weeks. We needed to do it appropriately and make sure everybody is involved,” she said.

“The individuals directly concerned with this, both staff, families and residents will be assisted as much as we can with compassion and love to enable them to resettle.

“From a wider perspective we need this opportunity to start thinking very particularly in a business framework to improve the offer we have for complex cases within the county.”

Lib Dem group spokesperson for Adult Social Care Cllr Jeremy Horton (Kingsholm and Wotton) said his group was “extremely concerned” by the decision following a meeting last Wednesday (June 22).

He said: “It became clear, under questioning, that the Cabinet’s decision was led by a desire to protect the private market, at a cost to our publicly run homes. 

“This comes in spite of the consistently high occupancy of all four care homes prior to the pandemic and the good ratings from the Care Quality Commission. 

“More than 2,000 residents, family members and staff petitioned against these care home closures yet this, along with all the consultation feedback, has counted for nothing at today’s meeting. 

“It is a continuation of this administration’s history of pulling out of public sector provision, which will eventually make us completely reliant upon privately run homes. 

“We should be using our public sector homes to drive up standards across the market of care, not simply rolling over and allowing the privately run businesses to run us out of town.”

Westbury Court Care Home has 41 places, but there are currently only 23 residents.

Employees at the home had questioned the rationale of the closure during the consultation, arguing that occupancy had only reduced as a result of the pandemic.

They also said the majority of residents came from the Forest rather than Gloucester, as claimed in the cabinet report.

The council says their are currently 49 places in the 14 care homes in the Forest.

It argues the layout and location of Westbury Court makes it difficult to adapt and adjust to the changing needs of residents, and that it lacks lack the modern amenities and ensuite facilities that most individuals expect.

It also said its location close to the River Severn means it has the potential to flood, and had to be evacuated last winter due to the risk of flooding.