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Middle school to become new care home

Wednesday, 3rd March 2010.

The redundant Chalkstone Middle School in Millfields Way will be redeveloped as a new care home to replace Place Court if a new county council initiative goes ahead.

Place Court care home in Camps Road, pictured, is one of three in Suffolk which would be replaced by 2014 using a Private Financie Initiative (PFI) from the Department of Health.

Suffolk County Council is confident it can put a successful bid together and has begun a public consultation process.

Views on the projects need to be given to the council by April 26, and a decision whether to proceed will be made by the council in July.

In announcing the proposals, the council said: "We want to maintain our position as a leading provider of registered care homes and these new homes would be built using the very latest research and findings on building design.

"This proposal would enable the council to meet the needs of many older people with dementia and complex care needs who can no longer be safely supported at home."

The council says it has chosen the sites out of the 16 care homes in Suffolk because current levels of registered care home places in the chosen areas are relatively low, current levels of care home places for people with dementia in these areas are low, there are potential sites suitable for the new homes, and a highly trained workforce is already working in these areas in the current council homes.

Of the Chalkstone scheme, the consultation booklet says: "It is proposed that the new care home would have 60 beds for the care and accommodation of older people with dementia and complex needs.

"This will include a dementia nursing service. The care home would also have the flexibility to offer intermediate and respite care services.

"Residents will have their own room of about 220 sq ft, including en-suite facilities. The rooms will be arranged in clusters. Each cluster will have its own lounge, dining room and other facilities which will provide a homely environment.

"The new home will also be environmentally friendly, fully supporting the councilís aim to be the greenest county.

"All residents of Place Court will be able to transfer to the new home. It is expected that the Place Court care team will transfer to the new home with the residents to provide continuity during the time of change."

Place Court and the other homes in the proposals, in Lowestoft and Mildenhall, will be closed and sold to help pay for the land for the new homes.

Then, subject to planning consent it is likely the homes will be demolished and the sites redeveloped. However, the council says it would be prepared to consider alternate proposals which would provide a similar financial outcome to help support the project.

It is not made clear why the council, or the PFI, which would get a 25-year contract to supply the required services in the new homes, would need to pay for the redundant school sites, which belong to the council already.

All three schemes involve redeveloping a new care home on a redundant school site.

The council's consultation booklet can be found at http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/29B26629-3987-4DE6-B47F-F5EDB4612261/0/PFIcon2010bookletweb.pdf

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