Members of a community panel on Cumberland Council scrutinised the adult social care department’s rationale for closing a care home in North Cumbria.

Chris Jones-King, the director of adult social care at Cumberland Council, delivered a presentation to the Border, Fellside, and North Carlisle Community Panel on March 27 at Belah Community Centre.

He reiterated concerns that the Moot Lodge care home in Brampton fails to meet current standards of care deemed sustainable and high quality, and highlighted challenges in meeting the demands of residents, especially considering the increasing complexity within the care sector.

The presentation outlined deficiencies such as limited lift capacity and inadequate outdoor space for residents with dementia and spoke of the importance of all residential care homes being conducive to quality living and value for money, considering they are funded by residents.

With an ageing population and rising mental health complexities, particularly in neurodiversity among young people, Mr Jones-King emphasised the council’s goal of the necessity of modern standards in social care homes.

He pointed out the limitations of Moot Lodge's design, indicating that retrofitting for necessary improvements would be impractical and costly.

Estimates suggest a minimum expenditure of £2.5million, potentially more.

Staff, he said, would be relocated to nearby facilities if it’s closed, naming Bramble Court in Brampton, and homes in Carlisle and Longtown.

An ongoing consultation started on February 13, while panel members expressing reservations.

Cllr Dr Helen Davison (Belah, Green Party), who said before the presentation that she was ‘very disappointed’ that this meeting did not include public participation, asked, if it closes, another building to replace it will be planned.

Mr Jones-King said the council’s perspective was to enhance care delivered at home, rather than building new care homes.

He later said care homes are best for people in their last thousand days, and they want to see people spending as much time as possible in their homes to ‘gain independence’.

He added that there are beds available for the physically frail and/or with dementia in the independent sector, but an area they struggle in is dementia nursing care, as the council is not registered to provide it.

Cllr Mike Mitchelson (Brampton, Conservative), staunchly opposed to the closure, said: “People say what’s good is it’s in the centre of town, it’s not just about removing the Lodge, it’s about removing care for Brampton.”

He pointed out that families wanting to visit residents in Carlisle would need to get a bus, and two if they’re in Longtown as there’s no direct link between the two towns.

Mr Jones-King said the council continues to provide care in the town in other ways, with Bramble Court being one example.

But with a three-year waiting list for Bramble Court, it’s unlikely anyone forced out of Moot Lodge would be rehomed in the town, Cllr Mitchelson said, adding he agreed with Cllr John Mallinson’s (Houghton and Irthington, Conservative) comment that home care isn’t suitable for all people and often leaves people on their own for much of the waking day.

Cllr Dr Helen Davison added that while nobody wants to go into a home, ‘families reach crisis points and need there to be a space somewhere not far from them, rather than having to sit on a waiting list for three years, it is too late by then’.

She also pointed out its recent positive CQC report showing good care is being provided at Moot Lodge, and to close it ‘just seems like a worrying move’.