Transforming nursing and specialist care – County Council announces major investment proposals

Proposals that would see some £173million invested over the next five to six years to transform and expand the future of nursing and specialist care accommodation directly provided by Hampshire County Council for the county’s growing older population, will be considered by the Local Authority’s Cabinet on 18 July

Jul 10 2023

Given the scale and scope of the proposals, Cabinet will be asked to approve the opening of a formal public consultation to be held from the beginning of September 2023, which will run for 10 weeks. 

Specifically, the proposals comprise: 

Building three brand new nursing homes – Oak Park in Havant, Cornerways in Winchester, and a site in the New Forest (location to be determined)

Significantly modernising and expanding care at three existing County Council homes
– Oakridge in Basingstoke, Ticehurst in Aldershot and Emsworth in Havant. 

Withdrawing, over time, from the direct provision of standard residential care, with: 

- the permanent closure of two residential care homes, temporarily closed since 2021 - Copper Beeches in Andover and Cranleigh Paddock in Lyndhurst

- the closure of three existing residential care homes at Bishops Waltham House, Solent Mead in Lymington, and Green Meadows in Waterlooville

- the closure of two further homes in the longer term (not before the end of 2026) - Westholme in Winchester and Malmesbury Lawn in Havant, with the services seamlessly moving to the new local facilities at Cornerways and Oak Park at the point that they are operational

- the ending of standard residential care services at Oakridge, Ticehurst and Emsworth (not before the Autumn 2025 at the earliest).

The County Council’s seven remaining nursing and short term ‘step-down from hospital’ care homes would remain in operation. These are: 

- Forest Court in Calmore, near Southampton
- Willow Court in Andover
- Clarence Unit (also known as Woodcot Lodge) in Gosport
- Bickerley Green in Ringwood
- Fleming House in Eastleigh
- Hawthorne Court in Sarisbury Green, Southampton
- Marlfield in Alton 

The investment proposals take account of the exceptional cost pressures facing the Local Authority, and the social care sector nationally in particular, and the absence of any indication from Government that a long-term solution to the funding of adult social care is imminent.

The plans put forward would be phased over time and would help to increase the overall number of directly provided Local Authority beds to around 1,000 from the current position of just over 900 beds.

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Rob Humby, said: “Over the next eight years, we expect to see the number of Hampshire residents aged 85+ increase by 22 per cent – that’s an extra 62,000 people. While our ageing lives are to be celebrated, we are seeing many people developing illnesses and living their later years in ill health, many with complex conditions, including dementia.
“Hampshire is one of only a handful of County Councils nationally to run our own network of care homes – but difficult choices face us as to where to focus our finite resources. Our adult social care service is therefore proposing to concentrate on the delivery of specialist nursing care, complex dementia care and short-term support – to either prevent a hospital admission or support a hospital discharge. This would not only meet the needs of a growing number of older people in Hampshire in the longer term but would be care that could be provided more cost effectively in-house. 

“It is understood that the proposed move away from providing long term in-house residential care for those with more standard needs, would have personal implications for many.  Cabinet will therefore carefully consider the rationale put forward for this, as part of our deliberations.” 

If Cabinet approves the way forward, a formal public consultation, proposed to start in September and run for ten weeks, would take place and ensure the views are sought of people currently being cared for in the County Council’s care homes, their families and staff, plus an extensive range of organisations and the wider public. 

The findings from the formal public consultation process would be considered by the Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee in January 2024 prior to the Executive Lead Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health taking any formal decisions, on the specific proposals, no earlier than February 2024.

Annually, the County Council sources care home places for around 1,600 clients, more than three quarters of whom go into private care homes. The investment proposals would enable a similar ratio of care provision to be maintained.
Other Local Authority adult social care support services, such as care provided in people’s homes and Extra Care housing, would not be affected by these proposals.