COUNCIL chiefs are to close a Kidderminster care home just eight months after voting to save it and turn it into a dementia care facility.

The Grange, in Sutton Park Road, is set to close in March 2019 because the Tory-led Worcestershire County Council said it is no longer fit for its original purpose and would cost millions to refurbish and remodel as a dementia unit.

A total of 31 staff work at The Grange could be made redundant as a result of this decision, to be discussed at Cabinet on October 18, and a consultation process has begun.

The news has been met with dismay from opposition politicians who branded the decision as “disgraceful” and accused the council of deliberately misleading the public over its future.

In October last year, The Grange – which provided short term recovery and rehabilitation care for up to 35 acute patients – faced the threat of closure in a shake-up of services.

Then in February this year, the authority announced The Grange would be kept and turned into a dementia unit while retaining some beds for rehabilitation.

But the council said a survey of the building revealed the cost of renovating the building to make it fit-for purpose would cost between £2.2million and £3.3million.

Councillor Adrian Hardman, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Adult Social Care, said: "The Grange currently only provides short-term care for people.

“We've looked into the future use of the building and it is going to cost too much to make the adaptations needed for it to be suitable for people living with dementia.

"For that reason the decision to close The Grange has been made and care will be provided elsewhere in Wyre Forest, including in people's own homes.

“This sort of care is often better delivered in people's own homes anyway to keep them independent for longer."

Fellow Tory councillor Tracey Onslow fronted a petition to save The Grange in February. But today she said: “The standard of care is the most important issue and I have been assured that the recovery and rehabilitation beds will be relocated within the Wyre Forest area, with appropriate support from NHS staff.”

Wyre Forest Labour group leader Nigel Knowles said: “The closure of The Grange is a disgraceful thing for the Tories to do.

“It provides a much needed service in Wyre Forest for vulnerable people which they will be denied if it closes. This is being done by Tories who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. The people of Wyre Forest will not forget.”

Labour spokesman Stephen Brown added: “The Tories are morally and politically bankrupt. They deliberately hoodwinked local people into supporting a duplicitous campaign which they lead pretending to save The Grange.

“It was then announced they have saved it with a long term dementia unit plan and I quote ‘council chiefs voted in favour of retaining it to help cope with increasing demand for dementia services in the coming years’.

“The reasons for closing The Grange now will have been exactly the same in February. As it is, eight months later, it’s on a new Tory hit list for closure.”

Kidderminster-based West Midlands MEP James Carver, who spoke out against the  last closure plan, said: “None of this seems to have been very well thought out. Our county council and acute hospital trust need to get their heads together to plan and provide proper provision for our increasingly elderly population.

“The original objection to the Grange’s closure was that it provided much-needed rehabilitation for elderly people who had been hospitalised, enabling them to return home.

“People working in the community care sector will tell you that there is a constant pressure for hospital beds to be freed up, so the loss of even a few step-down beds will have an impact.

“We should be looking to provide more rehabilitation places, not less.”

Since April 2018, The Grange has provided 10 short term beds – five beds for rehabilitation and recovery care, and five beds for short-term replacement care.