It has been announced this week that Polars Care Home, situated in the heart of the Isle of Wight, is to close later this year.
Somerset Care, which also owns Inver House in Bembridge, announced that closure of the Newport home would take place in September.
Staff, residents and their families are shocked and devastated at plans to close Polars, which is home to 29 residents and 49 staff members. One resident has lived there for 16 years.
Call for peaceful protest
Daughter of one of the residents, Alli Reynard, said,
“On behalf of residents, families and staff members, I am seeking support from the Island community to challenge this planned closure by Somerset Care.
“Any help in organising a peaceful public protest would be appreciated.”
Part of community for over 100 years
Alli went on to say,
“Polars has been a well-established part of the community for over 100 years, doctors and local professionals have been shocked to hear of the planned closure as they consider this to be one of the most caring and well-run residential homes in Newport.
“If Polars was to close there would be no replacement building and we would lose part of Newport’s history too. The residents would lose the place they now know as home.”
Somerset Care: Well-being of residents a priority
A spokesperson for Somerset Care said,
“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 Isle of Wight Council care managers are working closely with us to ensure that all residents find new homes quickly and transfer safely.
“We will support staff at risk of redundancy to find new jobs, with help from the Department of Work and Pensions and the Unions.”
Rising costs and pressure of low council fee rates
Chief Executive of Somerset Care, Dr Jane Townson, 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 decision: pressure on income due to low Council fee rates; rising costs due to increases in National Living Wage, pensions, insurance premium tax, regulatory fees, training levy, Council Tax and general inflationary rises; and high costs of maintaining an old building which is no longer fit for purpose.
“This has resulted in operating losses for a long period, with no sign of improvement.
“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 without jeopardising the 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 12 September 2017.”
Closure needs to be challenged
Allie went on to add,
“The building was initially purpose built for the blind with the front part still being used as a private residence, and then being upgraded to a residential home, we desperately need to save this residential home. The amount of residential facilities available on the Island needs to grow as the demand grows, decisions regarding planned closure should also be challenged at social services level too.
“The home does a lot of charity events, involving family, friends, staff, and residents every year, supporting such things as the Hampshire and Isle of Wight air ambulance, The Joe Ellis Trust, Fire Brigade, to name but a few.”
Who are Somerset Care?
Somerset Care is one of the largest not-for-profit healthcare providers in the south of England.
The Company provides around 15,000 hours of community care every week of the year to people in their own homes, and through their residential care services they operate 29 care homes.
Under the name ‘Realise’, Somerset Care provides support to people with learning disabilities.