Town councillors heard a briefing for Tim Baverstock, in charge of commissioning adult care for Somerset County Council, about the issues behind the imminent closure of Popham House and Popham Court with the loss of over 56 residential places.
“It wasn’t our decision and the news came as shock to the county council as it did to everyone in Wellington,” said Mr Baverstock. “We own the buildings but Somerset Care is an independent business who lease them from us. They had had a poor Care Quality Commission Report and occupancy levels were not high enough for the facility to cover its operating costs.
“Across the board we have more beds in care homes than are being filled. And that’s because people are staying in their own homes much later in life, through their own choices and due to funder policies. The old anecdotes about people driving themselves to a home and checking in; that just doesn’t happen anymore.”
Councillors said they understood the financial pressures but were unhappy with the future situation. “It leaves a huge hole in the provision of services for people in Wellington,” said Cllr Andy Govier. “There’s a real risk that older people become isolated from family and friends if they are forced to move a considerable distance from Wellington by a closure like this.
“It feels like the town is under attack. The community hospital is closed temporarily, we’re losing the Popham beds and now Stratfield House is going,
“I want to ensure that people who have lived in this town their whole lives have a chance to stay close to their loved ones in later life.”