I have received a number of emails about the planned closure of Furlong Close, the residential care home for adults with learning disabilities in Rowde.
At the end of last year Hft, the owner of Furlong Close announced that the closure planned for June this year would not go ahead - but Hft remains committed to ceasing to provide care home services at this site. Residents and families are therefore understandably concerned that the closure has simply been postponed, but remains inevitable.
I want to ensure that the residents of Furlong Close and their families have every chance for their voices to be heard about their future. There is a currently an application before the courts for a judicial review into Hft's decision to end their service at Furlong Close. Whether this judicial review goes ahead or not (and I very much hope it does), I also hope that Wiltshire Council will be able to undertake a thorough needs assessment, in close consultation with families, of every resident's needs and wishes. This process should not be delayed by the judicial review.
I share Wiltshire Council's vision of the future of adult social care, and I support the steps that are being taken by the council to adapt services away from residential care and towards more community-based settings. However, individuals and their families need a choice of services, and residential care remains a legitimate part of the local 'care economy'. It is also the case that even if Furlong Close did not fit the vision for the county's care system in future, it is the home to some dozens of elderly adults who have long expected to see out their days there.
I hope a way can be found to uphold this expectation for those residents who wish to stay. If Hft are determined to terminate their service at the site, it may be possible to devise an alternative means to continue it under different management. I have confidence in the good faith and imagination of Wiltshire council, working with residents' families and supporters, to explore all such options. I will continue to pay close attention to the situation at Furlong Close.