Consultation opens on Sheppey care home’s future

Front of Blackburn Lodge building with sign

Kent County Council (KCC) is urging residents, organisations and care providers on the Isle of Sheppey to have their say on its proposal for Blackburn Lodge.

KCC was forced to temporarily close the Sheerness care home in November after a safety inspection found iron levels in the piped water used for drinking and bathing was 20 times higher than permitted limits.

Thirteen permanent residents were moved to alternative residential accommodation because it was not safe for them to stay – and KCC social work staff supported all involved. The older people’s day care service was also suspended.

Now the County Council is calling for views on permanently closing the building.

The proposal follows an estimation that to bring Blackburn Lodge up to current care home regulator standards would cost £4 million, with works taking around 13 months to complete.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said Blackburn Lodge would not meet the current standards for registration as a care home if it were to be built today. The building has no en-suite bathrooms, and the general layout makes access poor, and this limits who can stay there.

The consultation runs to 23.59pm Tuesday, 7th May 2024, and is available to read, download and respond to via on KCC’s Let’s Talk Kent website.

Documents are also available in alternative formats on request from the contact details below and printed copies can be obtained at Sheerness, Queenborough and Minster In Sheppey libraries.

Former residents and day care attendees and their families are being contacted directly about the consultation.

Councillor Dan Watkins

We will be listening to all feedback and thoroughly assessing responses before any final decisions are taken

Dan Watkins KCC Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health

Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, Dan Watkins, said:“We fully understand the proposal to permanently shut Blackburn Lodge will be upsetting for some of our residents and families.

“It is not an option we put forward lightly but it does follow a stark assessment of the building’s condition, including subsidence and issues with the water supply system, and the considerable cost it will take to fix it.

“This proposal also recognises the number of residents that can be safely cared for at Blackburn Lodge has greatly reduced since it was built in 1982 and the home has not operated at capacity for some years.

“We will be listening to all feedback and thoroughly assessing responses before any final decisions are taken.

“Meanwhile, we continue working with partners, providers and local organisations, including Swale Borough Council and Community Catalysts, to increase care opportunities on the island, as this is required whether or not Blackburn Lodge re-opens.”

Designed to provide 34 beds, Blackburn Lodge had just 13 permanent residents at the time of the recent temporary closure.

Other options considered for the building’s future were trying to re-open the home, or attempting to sell it as a going concern.

Once all responses have been assessed, consultation findings will be considered by KCC’s Adult Social Care Committee in July. A final decision by the Adult Social Care and Public Health Cabinet Member will then follow.

Further help to take part in the consultation:

  • If you need documents produced in an alternative format, or have any questions about the consultation, please email or call 03000 421810.
  • For Text Relay, please use 18001 03000 421810. This number goes to an answer machine which is monitored during normal office hours, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
  • If you prefer to write, our postal address is: Blackburn Lodge Consultation, Adult Social Care & Health, Kent County Council, Invicta House, Sandling Road, Maidstone, ME14 1XX.