FAMILIES have blasted a decision to close a much-loved care home in Stonehouse.

Gloucestershire County Council's cabinet unanimously backed plans to close the Elms plus three other care homes across the county last Wednesday.

Stroud News and Journal: The Elms care home in Stonehouse The Elms care home in Stonehouse

Members insist they took the decision after ‘carefully considering feedback from the recent six-week consultation with residents, their relatives and staff as well as the results of engagement with the local care market’.

GCC says residents will be supported in arranging future care for relatives.

Cabinet also approved plans to deliver a new or redeveloped facility on the Elms site to provide nursing and residential care. 

Details of this are yet to be released, although council leader Mark Hawthorne said 'work will begin soon to ensure these plans are progressed'.

Relatives and some councillors have hit out at the closure decision. 

Stroud district councillor Mattie Ross (Labour, Stonehouse) – who attended a protest outside the home – said she was 'appalled' at the decision.

“Although I am appalled it was utterly predictable," she said. 

“There has been no mention of the residents who are living there and what will happen to them.

“Where will they go until this new improved site is built?

“The Elms may be old fashioned but staff and residents are like a family.”

Jackie Chapel, a 70-year-old from Stonehouse whose husband has been at the Elms for three years, condemned the decision. 

“I am not happy about it at all," she said. 

“I have now got to find my husband somewhere to go.

“I am not sure what to do."

Mark Wild's 95-year-old mother-in-law is also at the home.

Although he and his wife have now started to make inquiries about moving her, Mr Wild said it was a 'huge shame' that the facility in Elm Road will close. 

Stroud News and Journal: Family members of care home residents, councillors and other Stonehouse residents on Sunday outside The Elms care home Family members of care home residents, councillors and other Stonehouse residents on Sunday outside The Elms care home

"The staff at the Elms have always been wonderful, they could not have been nicer," he said. 

"It's a shame because the care home is in a really good spot in the middle of town. 

"We don't know yet what will happen with the potential new facility but we have to make sure that we hold the council to account."

Carol Trim’s father Peter Campbell spent 18 months at the home before he passed away in late 2020.

“My dad was happy during the time he was there,” said Ms Trim, from Stonehouse.

“Whenever I went to visit him I enjoyed speaking to the residents and staff there.

“They really cared about him.

“Sadly, he died in November 2020 but if he were still alive I would be so upset at this closure.

“As I live in Stonehouse the location of the care home was just so convenient.

“The home provided very good care during the pandemic.

“I am staggered by the decision."

Stonehouse mayor Gary Powell is worried about what will happen to current residents.

“I am very worried about where the residents are going," he said. 

“It is very sad that we are going to lose something like this.

“It is a very well run care home as well as being in a very convenient location. 

“The whole thing is just very narrow minded."

However, Conservative councillor Nick Housden, who represents Stonehouse on both Stroud District Council and Gloucestershire County Council, defended the decision.

“The Elms was built at a time when expectations and needs of care differed greatly from today,” he said.

“Residents are now entering care later and are likely to have a greater complexity of needs.

“Following the impact of the pandemic it is clear that new facilities are needed to meet the changes in need of the projected demographic across Gloucestershire.

“Facilities with adaptations like en-suite bathrooms, wider corridors, bigger rooms for equipment etc.

“At the cabinet meeting we unanimously backed the decision to close the Elms, with a view to redeveloping the site to build a purpose-built facility to better meet the needs of residents in the future.

“Though the closure of an existing care home is always challenging, residents will be well supported.

“The opportunity for the new facility on this site presents huge opportunities for Stonehouse.”

GCC leader Mark Hawthorne said that although the decision wasn't easy, he believes it was the correct one. 

“Taking the decision to close someone’s home is never easy but, having considered all the information in front of us, it was the right one to make," he said. 

"Understandably the wider market conditions and issues are less important to the residents and families of these homes, but they are matters we must address in fulfilling our duty to support a stable and effective local care market.

“I know residents in these homes will be anxious about the future, but our dedicated social care staff will use all their skills and knowledge to minimise disruption for the residents of these homes.

“It important to remember that part of the decision was to invest in new, purpose-built facilities in areas of the county that need them most, helping to ensure care provision in Gloucestershire meets the needs of residents for the years ahead."

A petition to save the home was signed by more than 500 people. 

This followed a protest in April outside the home which included residents, relatives, Stroud District Council leader Doina Cornell plus other councillors.