Dolphin Manor

by stewartgolton on 26 October, 2011

It is a few weeks now since the Council decided not to take forward its proposals to shut down Dolphin Manor residential home. The residents can now finally feel secure in the place they are very proud to call home. It took a lot of hard work from a great many people to prove to the Council the level of anger there was in our area. In the end we finally got across that being looked after locally, in the midst of family and friends close at hand, is just as important as the bricks and mortar of a building.

The Council was forced to admit that there was not any alternative private accommodation in the area for those elderly facing being turfed out. That is why they have relented and allowed residents to stay on for now, but the Council has confirmed that they will withdraw from providing Council care on this site, as soon as an alternative is provided.

The Council’s preference was originally for the private sector to take over responsibility for the supply of residential accommodation as the Council withdrew. The activists acting to save Dolphin Manor soon realised that in the face of a Council determined to withdraw, that they would be best seeking to take over Dolphin Manor as a community trust. This would save the present building, protect staff interests, and keep the elderly residential provision small scale and intimate. All local councillors backed this option, and the Council has agreed to transfer Dolphin Manor to the Community subject to them agreeing that the Trust’s business case adds up.

The problem is, of course, that the people judging whether or not the business case stacks up are the same people who insisted that they could not see a way how services could be provided at better value for money. It is notoriously difficult to persuade the Council to hand over a significant asset to the community, but I am committed to ensuring that the significant local talent that is coming together to form this Trust gets the support and recognition that they deserve from the Council.

This is in the knowledge that should the Council consider the Trust to be unworkable, the other option on the table is for the land to be identified for a 60 bed private to be built, and then close not just Dolphin Manor, but also Home Lea which the Council classifies as “Subject to further review”.

So, although the current residents can be assured of a staying in their home, local to their families, there is still considerable uncertainty for our community about who is to provide and be responsible for our elderly in the not too distant future.

One thing that is certain, a decision on whether the Council is backing the Community Trust or not, must be taken within the next six months. The community originally learned the bad news about Dolphin Manor just days after the last election. To delay another key decision until the election is safely out of the way will destroy any faith left that many still have in the Council’s decision making.

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