Save Benjamin Court!

by Steff on 26 September, 2023

Today I put forward a motion, with Cllr Lucy Shires’ support, to save Benjamin Court in Cromer. My speech is below.

The cabinet member’s response to Cllr Connolly’s earlier question confirms my belief: which is that this decision was taken without the appropriate public consultation.  How do you know that this is what people want, when there has been no consultation with users or potential users?

There are four areas which are subject to statutory consultation – and I believe this decision fits up to three of them given the extent of the changes.

It was after all sufficient to trigger consultation for staff but only just in May, after no public record of any discussion.

What about people who can’t appropriately recover at home who will be made more vulnerable?  For example, those without the space or the connectivity – whose homes are not laid out or accessible sufficiently for safe reablement treatment, or may even be filled with the result of other issues such as hoarding. 

Convalescence may be an old idea, but even in today’s modern healthcare terminology, it is much more widely defined than Cllr Tomas stated – and includes specific reference to recuperation.

Reading through all the available guidelines for reablement, it’s clear that in many circumstances these services should be delivered jointly by health and social care providers.  “Integrated care” you could almost say.  In fact it was to enable this way of working that this council reopened Benjamin Court only a few short years ago and with great triumph. 

Make no mistake, the closure of Benjamin Court is dreadful news for the residents of North Norfolk and is another example of cuts to our health and care service.  We have a care crisis which is made worse for our most vulnerable and elderly residents by what happens between hospital and home.  

It is well established that proper support after hospital treatment leads to stronger, longer-lasting recovery, and reduces readmission.  I cannot understand the logic of closing one of only a small number of convalescence units where patients can be discharged from hospital to recover.  It’s naive and unrealistic to think that home-based care can provide the same support.

From shutting surgeries to trying to ban care worker visas, Conservative MPs locally and nationally have brought our NHS and social care to their knees which is why we should all welcome Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey’s major package of costed, largely self-funding support for social care announced at our conference on Saturday. 

We’ve already heard today how there is frustration across this chamber with our county’s MPs not acting decisively enough in the interests of our rural and coastal communities.  It’s  time for a new kind of politics… to rebuild our health services – as well as our coastal management approaches – in a way that meets the needs of rural communities.

But before anyone starts growling that I am bringing politics into a political chamber, let’s be absolutely clear about the practical circumstances:

Delayed transfers of care.

Failed discharges.

And Unmet care needs.

Other than consultation, these are the considerations which should have been front of mind in making this decision. 

I and my liberal democrat colleagues have been watching these numbers carefully. 

I recognise the work done to reduce unmet care needs and that the recruitment drive for care workers has succeeded – for now.  But closing benjamin court will inevitably end up placing more reliance on private care settings for short term care home visits.  We know there is high turnover of staff in social care and this decision risks turning back the progress that has been made.

We also do still have unmet care needs in Norfolk – we also have the ongoing issues of delayed transfers of care and failed discharges.  And place matters.  More than anything else, the people of north norfolk are about to lose a valued community facility.  We have little faith that returning it to NHS Estates would lead to anything approaching the same service being carried out there any time soon.  And it surely makes sense, given the nature of the support we’re talking about, to provide that support as close as possible to people’s homes, families and communities.

The questions that have been asked about how appropriate support will be provided seems to receive a carousel of different answers.   It’s surely time to pause and re-evaluate this short-termist decision.  If not I expect we’ll carry on going round the not so merry-go-round and in five years time, NCC will yet again don the emperor’s new clothes.

Please support this motion to keep this valued facility doing the job it was, until very recently, doing well.

   1 Comment

One Response

  1. Ailsa Marcham says:

    This is a very refreshing point of view. Thank you for supporting an institution many value highly. We all need good more local care provision. Paying a little extra tax regularly for such facilities for rehabilitation and convalescence offsets the awful situation where some people are forced to pay dearly when they need support and others just suffer out of sight. So many repercussions in the family when someone needs care and cannot function.

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