AN INVESTIGATION has found Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) failed in its duty to prevent the closure of Brambletye Care Home.

This comes after a complaint was lodged against the council by the father of a former resident who experienced ‘distress and anxiety’ due to the closure and subsequent relocation.

The complainant, referred to in the report as Mr C, told the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) that the council did not do enough to stop the care home for people with learning difficulties in Finchampstead from closing. He said WBC did not make proper transition arrangements for his daughter, referred to as Ms C, into a new care home.

Mr C’s daughter was a resident of Brambletye for more than 16 years.

The investigation found that WBC is ‘at fault for failing to follow due process when it was aware the care home was having difficulties’.

Operators first decided to close the home in August 2022 because it was running at a loss.

Problems began the death of a resident in November 2021. WBC first became aware that this resident was terminally ill in April 2021, and in turn that there would be an imminent vacancy in the five-bed home.

However, due to quality concerns, the council had ruled the home to be under ‘red flag status’, meaning that it could not place new residents.

It since moved to ‘amber flag status’ in June 2022, which meant that residents could be moved in, but under caution. However, the council found it difficult to find a suitable person to fill the vacancy due to ‘compatibility issues with the residents’, the report LGO indicates.

Operator then told the council it was planning on stopping provisions to support the care home, allowing the council to look for an alternative care provider.

The care provider said that the council had offered extra funds to continue the running of the home so residents could find new accommodation – but that this came too late.

The report finds the authority to be at fault for delaying telling residents about the closure.

The LGO ordered the council to pay the family £2,000 for the distress caused.

It also said the council needed to produce a policy which sets out the steps officers should take when a care home is under threat of closure.