COUNCIL chiefs have defended their decision to continue staffing an empty care home.
Glendale House, in Rose Avenue, Blackhall, hit the headlines last year when it was one of seven earmarked for closure by Durham County Council.
Despite staff and families of residents staging protest marches and collecting an 8,000-name petition, the local authority went ahead and closed the facility, claiming more elderly people now receive care in their own privately-owned homes.
This week, it emerged that the council – which faces a task of saving £114.6m by 2015 – is still employing staff to work at Glendale House, despite the last resident having moved out almost a month ago.
Glendale House now only provides daycare, but staff are still working nights and weekends.
Lesley Jeavons, the council’s head of adult care, said: “Our current priority with regard to in-house care homes is to ensure we continue to provide a service which does not compromise on quality or safety for those people still living in and using the homes.
“Although Glendale House is now only serving day-centre users, a limited and reduced staff provision is still required at night and during weekends. This is only a short-term arrangement and is necessary to ensure continuity of service and maintain the security of the property while we complete the process of closing it.
“Staff at the home have been issued with dates for their final day of employment and should have left the home by the middle of February.
“We have always said that the timescale for closure of the homes would be flexible in order to accommodate the needs of individual residents and, as such, have had to ensure that each home was fully operational until the last resident left or ceased to receive support from our service.
“The closure process takes some time and a date cannot be determined until the home is no longer in use. We are, however, constantly reviewing staffing levels at each of the homes and it is important to remember that any home still being used needs a mixture of staff with various skills in order to operate effectively.”