Residents and staff devastated at Isle of Wight care home closure plan

Staff, residents and families are shocked and devastated at news that Polars Care Home is to close in September. With 29 residents and 49 members of staff, Polars has been a well-established part of the community for over 100 years.


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.

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Thursday, 15th June, 2017 1:59pm



Filed under: Health, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Top story

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. Suruk the Slightly Miffed

    15.Jun.2017 2:34pm

    This is what 7 years of Tory austerity and cuts gets you.

    Imagine what the next 5 years will bring.

  2. Robert Jones

    15.Jun.2017 3:44pm

    This is likely to be the first of many such closures on the island and elsewhere, and it’s largely attributable to cuts in council support, which stems from government decisions. It IS an old building, indeed it’s an historic one, and that will have imposed extra costs. But the underlying truth is that we’re continually trying to do things on the cheap, in health, social care, education, which cost money if they’re to be done properly or even done at all. This is what ‘austerity’ gets you: private affluence, and public squalor.

  3. Stewart Blackmore

    15.Jun.2017 4:52pm

    This sad trend is set to continue thanks to the disastrous cuts in Adult Social Care by this government and, by extension, the IW Council.

    Whatever you think of the General Election result ‘austerity’ was soundly rejected by the electorate.

    We’ll be watching the deal (some might say bribe) being offered to the DUP to prop up this no-hope government. That money should be going to the NHS and social services.

  4. Phil Jordan

    15.Jun.2017 5:38pm

    Indeed….. it closed three small homes about two years ago and Osborne cottage in Sept 2014. The three small care homes were taken on by the Council at the time.

    The reasons for the ‘closures’ all come with identical reasons for their closures. Read above for those!

    As others are noting, this is a direct result of cuts to funding and is also part of the problems the Island (..and elsewhere) face across the whole care sector delivery. Rising costs, compliance cost increases and legislative processes, wage increases, pensions, general cost increases such as fuel… all set against a back drop of reducing funding (in real terms). Simply, the costs of care have risen and the monies paid have remained just about the same or decreased (again, in real terms).

    Residential care homes )as are nursing and domcare) are looking primarily for ‘private clients’ (and part of the problems being created elsewhere of not being able to find hospital care leavers a place either in nursing homes, residential homes or, indeed, with domiciliary care providers) because the rates being paid by local authorities is not sustainable in covering their costs.

    In addition, on the Island, there are few economies of scale for care home owners where our market is a significant number of ‘smaller’ care homes under 20 beds. The Industry acceptance is that you need 20+ bed homes as a bare minimum to be able to survive in business. Perhaps why you may find those types of care homes for sale…?

    The savage cuts to local authorities ..and delivered down through social care (the biggest IOW Council budget… about £80m per year – around a third of gross budget) are impacting the whole care market and we need to be careful that there is not a collapse generally where Government again steps in and places it in special measures with another mainland authority. It’s a real possibility.

    There are more cuts to come (even with the ‘windfall’ the government dished out in the spring budget) and it is getting difficult to see how this can continue on a sustainable basis.

    The attacks on the disabled reported in another thread are also direct results of funding cuts and financial pressures. I expect more closures to come and some are going to be very unpalatable indeed. Hitherto areas of service delivery – namely disabled and learning difficulty – have been an absolute no go area for cuts. I’m afraid that this is going to change as the conservative administration struggle to find ways to balance revenue budgets, especially after seven years of them that have left just about zero left to cut.

    • Billy Builder

      16.Jun.2017 1:15pm

      Phil, whilst I fully agree with you that social care funding is extremely inadequate you do seem to have missed the elephant in the room: costs are rising largely as a result of the BRexit vote 12 months ago. And costs will continue to rise as a result of the falling pound, and due to increased wage bills due to a severe shortage in supply of EU labour which is already falling fast and is likely to dry up completely.

      As BRexit is delivered the Island will struggle more and more as essential EU labour becomes both very scarce and very expensive. We can expect many more care home closures as well as closures across hotel & catering and many other sectors.

      • Suruk the Slightly Miffed

        16.Jun.2017 4:07pm

        Interestingly, our “bl**dy difficult woman” seems to have caved in on her demand that trade agreements should be discussed in parallel with Brexit negotiations.

        The terms (and cost) of our exit from the EU will now be agreed *before* discussions on future trade.

        As to care home staffing? Pretty sure Mrs “Brexit means Brexit” is going to have to cave in on freedom of movement, too, or see the care sector self-implode

  5. Phil Jordan

    16.Jun.2017 2:27pm


    Thanks…. the problem(s) of care delivery on the Island are less to do with Brexit and the increased costs and much more to do with the historical approaches to care and the costing paid to providers. In reality, for example, the rate paid to providers is not a market rate, it was imposed in 2011 after a 5 year (slightly increased) block contract in the dom care market when the Council ‘decided’ upon the rate it felt *appropriate* for the service and have merely added small percentage increases since that time.
    In addition, at that time, rates were paid at an enhanced level for 15 minute, 30 minute and 45 minute calls (again in dom care) for very good reasoning and an accepted practice by the Authority. In 20ll, those call were charged pro rata to the hourly rate which made them uneconomical. (for example, in 2011, to provide a 15 minute call – no longer commissioned by this Council – a provider would have been paid £3.20. For a half hour call it would have been £6.40… you can probably see the problems already at this point).
    The hourly rate paid was imposed and never tendered… instead a framework agreement was drawn up which providers could apply to be included upon…at the rates quoted.
    The UKHCA (the trade representative for dom care across the UK) have published (october 2015) the minimum rate necessary for one hour of dom care provision and it is complete and includes all costs incurred in providing this service. The IOW, not the worst by any means, though not the best either, is paying, today, about 80p per hour less than the october 2015 required rate.
    Care homes were also subject to imposed rates by the Authority. These rates paid by the Council do not reflect the true market rate for care delivery and all providers charge more for non social care service users by some margin. Private rates in the dom care market can be around £17 per hour. Rates for private clients in care homes can be about £150 – £200 per week more.

    Add into all of this government legislation such as an increased living wage, pensions, increased registration costs (CQC), increased legislation requiring all manner of training and compliance issues, travelling time, waiting time … the list can go on…. are the impacting factors that exist and impact on this Island. Nationally, it can be a slightly different picture.

    To further complicate and extend the Island problem(s) in care, the Authority has introduced a commissioning system that just does not work for anyone and is very much at the heart of why the hospital is having problems releasing clients into the community, amongst other things. In short, it’s more a localised problem on the Island (not many migrant workers across the sector either) rather than a result of Brexit but, essentially, the rate being paid to providers is not the market rate, it is imposed and is unsustainable. It’s that simple really. The cuts to the Authority are the (stated) reasons, of course, that the true market rate cannot be paid to providers and that is why, in a nutshell, the care delivery system is in crisis on this Island. Until the correct rate is paid across the sector and until the current commissioning system is scrapped we are headed for more disruption, closures, failures and poor service delivery.

    • Billy Builder

      18.Jun.2017 2:17pm

      Phil, I wasn’t really suggesting that the colsure of this home was directly related to BRexit, as there a a host of existing issues applicabl to this home in particular and other homes mpre generally. The point that I was trying to make was that BRexit and the cost of BRexit will compound these problems, as BRexit will reduce funding, reduce availability og labour and Inc costs for all care homes. That is, BRexit is likely to cost something like £200billion over the next couple of years, money that would be better spent on the NHS and social care. The £200billion BRexit bill willpay for a real reduction in GDP of about 20% going forward.

  6. While the austerity measures cannot have helped, I’m not convinced that is the complete answer at all. Throughout my working career I have been continually challenged to save money, and save more money. It is a British disease. We are always striving to do more for less. Some years ago I ran a data centre, and even IBM were astounded we’d managed to get so much out of our computer, tuning and retuning, because we could not secure the budget for a replacement.
    I don’t entirely think it is to do with productivity either, as you cannot be efficient if your equipment is outdated. It is the British disease to work your assets to the bone.

    In this case, no doubt the age of the building has brought its own increased overhead.

    We cannot keep striving to drive down costs, as eventually something will break, as in this case. We see it with hospital beds too. no other European country tries to function on such narrow margins. When will we ever learn?

    • Austerity is a political choice – by government and council, it is not a necessity.

      • Phil Jordan

        18.Jun.2017 4:04pm


        It absolutely is…. one comment however regarding the ‘Council’.

        Since 2010, government has cut funding to the Council by around £70m (per annum from now on).
        The net budget last year was around £135m.

        You get so see from these figures that the Council has been forced in to *austerity* measures by the ongoing cuts to its funding.
        We know that around £12m more has to be found by 2020.

        The choices are being made by government, for sure, but when we get down to local authority levels (..and there are many, many authorities suffering a similar fate to the Island) the choices being made are forced upon them and have little to do with implementing an ideological austerity programme of their own choice and making… they are merely delivering the government agenda from an unsustainable position.

        I do think that many, many people across this country are beginning to tire of the dogged continuation of such a policy which seems to be changing the face of our communities… and not for the better.

  7. Some wonderful reasonings for the closure here,, but perhaps this has more to do with Somerset Care than with Brexit (???) or some of the other reasons given here. Steephill was allegedly closed because a private buyer had been found (and a large profit was made) who demanded vacant posession and the rumour mill was full of alleged ‘previous’ with the company.
    So perhaps this is another similar case… but who knows eh?

  8. I daresay that the Polars site will provide a substantial amount of new housing for our ever increasing population, and who, when the proceeds of sale are handed over, will be rubbing their hands with glee – hmm maybe Somerset Care.

  9. The result of twin evils – austerity and privatisation. And yet the Isle of wight has just voted for more of the same with Bob Seely and a Conservative Council. Expect more of this in the coming years. Protests will be ignored.

  10. I have yet to hear any comment from Bob Seely on this – will he be asking a question is the House as part of his election commitment to represent us?

    • Suruk the Slightly Miffed

      18.Jun.2017 2:48pm

      Too busy eying up the local fox population….

      • you’re beginning to sound like a broken record StSM.

        • Steve Goodman

          19.Jun.2017 10:39am

          From where I am, given what we were all told ahead of the own goal election, that just seems like a pointless (pot/kettle?) smear attempt.

          New MP BS did commit himself to enjoying some nibbles and cutting a ribbon (on his third attempt) at the West Wight Sports Centre’s climbing wall on Saturday. (I assume that if he was a fellow wall crowdfunder, he gave anonymously, because his name seemed not to be on the list.) I’m hoping that he is now busy doing what he said he would do about helping to extend and improve our limited cycle network and lots of other beneficial economic and environmental stuff before getting round to the foxes and fracking.

        • Suruk the Slightly Miffed

          19.Jun.2017 12:57pm

          And you seem to have a serious malfunction in your sense of humour gland.

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