Popham Court, which provides care for 53 elderly people, is to close in November. Somerset Care, the operator says that the home near Wellington Park has been losing money for several years and the building would require a large investment to make it viable.
“We understand how upsetting this news is for residents, families and staff and we are offering our full support to everyone at this difficult time. Our priority is the well-being of our residents, and we are working closely with Somerset County Council care managers to ensure that all residents find new homes quickly and transfer safely,” said a Somerset Care announcement. “Where possible, we will offer staff jobs at our other services in Somerset and support others to find suitable employment.”
Dr Jane Townson, Chief Executive of Somerset Care said: “Closing a care home is absolutely the last resort and is something we never do without long and careful consideration of all possible options. A combination of factors has led to this difficult decision. Nowadays, people typically remain at home for as long as possible and only come into care homes with quite advanced levels of dementia and frailty, so dependency of need is high. In the UK, 80 per cent of care homes are over 50 years old and many buildings are not fit for purpose.
“Popham Court is no exception and needs substantial investment in order to meet the needs of our older population in future. After seeking expert advice and looking carefully at the market and costs of development, we are unable to make a viable business case to rebuild Popham Court. Furthermore, Somerset County Council owns the buildings and the site and, in line with national government policy and demand, does not support the development of additional care home beds. Their goal is to support people to live independently in their own homes and there is an excess of care home beds locally.
“On top of this, despite strong occupancy, Popham Court has been recording financial losses for a number of years. This is due to rising costs – particularly National Living Wage (we welcome this for staff but it has to be paid for); pensions; regulatory fees; apprenticeship levy; insurance; and general inflation – without a corresponding increase in income, and average fee rates do not cover the costs of care delivery.
“Somerset Care is a not-for-profit company with no shareholders. Any surplus we make is reinvested in the business for the benefit of our customers and staff.
“Unfortunately, we cannot sustain loss-making services indefinitely as we need to ensure the long term viability of the whole company.
We are very sorry this decision has been necessary and our goal now is to ensure all residents are safely transferred to their new homes well before the final closure date of 30th November 2018.”