Landmark community-run care home plan in Leeds collapses after residents ’strung along for five years’

Dolphin Manor care home, Rothwell. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Dolphin Manor care home, Rothwell. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
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Council bosses have been accused of stringing Leeds residents along following the collapse of a care home takeover that was nearly five years in the making.

The volunteer-run Dolphin Manor Trust (DMT), formed amid Leeds City Council plans to shut Rothwell’s popular care home of the same name in 2011, has pulled out of talks to run a new care facility on behalf of the local authority.

John Normington, from the Dolphin Manor Trust, outside Rothwell's Dolphin Manor care home. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

John Normington, from the Dolphin Manor Trust, outside Rothwell's Dolphin Manor care home. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

The group of residents, who had teamed up with care experts at the Sandwell Community Caring Trust, hoped to open and run a new 60-bed care home in Woodlesford so people at Rothwell’s two under-threat homes could stay in the area.

It would have replaced Dolphin Manor and the nearby Home Lea House, with funding coming from the sale of council land, but after years of fruitless talks DMT has pulled the plug on the idea.

It would have been the first community asset transfer of a care facility in Leeds.

The decision comes amid consultation over further closures of council-run care homes and shortly after it pledged to work more with residents to find “new ways” of working as it aims to save £76million from its budget in 2016/17.

John Normington, DMT spokesman, said: “They have been stringing us along for five years now. They’re not listening, they don’t want to listen to the community – all they want is for the community to agree with them.”

DMT’s initial plan was to takeover Dolphin Manor but uncertainty over Home Lea House sparked plans for a larger community-run home at Windlesford Green, in Woodlesford. It was proposed that the facility would offer residential, dementia and nursing care but the plans have now been abandoned.

Meanwhile a new luxury care home has been built by the private sector in Oulton although the DMT fears it could prove too expensive for some residents.

It is thought that the council is now exploring building a new 36-bed nursing home and a 55-bed extra care housing unit in the Rothwell area.

Coun Stewart Golton (Lib Dem, Rothwell) said working with DMT was a “great opportunity to do social care differently in Rothwell” and ease the pressure on the private sector.

Coun Lisa Mulherin, the council’s executive member for health, said it was “extremely disappointing” that the DMT had withdrawn from the process.

She added: “I would be very interested to hear from any local group or organisation who would be interested in working with us to help to meet the unmet older people’s housing need in the Rothwell area through social enterprise.”

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