PLANS to close a run-down care home in Thatcham are expected to be approved this week.

West Berkshire Council is looking to close Walnut Close Care Home to save £330,000 a year and move the 17 residents and 25 full-time staff to the three other care homes it runs.

The building, which is over 50 years old, does not provide many of the facilities that are available in modern care homes and if it remains open, it will require £150,000 of urgent repair work to ensure it remains safe.

The council has been considering plans to close the care home and sell the land for months, but says the Covid-19 pandemic “necessitates more urgent action”.

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That’s because infection control in the care home has been difficult during the pandemic, as residents have to share bathrooms because there are no ensuites.

A council report states: "Covid-19 has had a devastating effect on the whole care home sector in the area, including West Berkshire Council homes.

"It has however left us with an opportunity to consolidate our efforts on three of the West Berkshire Council homes in order to ensure they have adequate staffing to provide quality care in a fit for purpose environment."

Walnut Close Care Home used to accommodate 35 residents, but 10 rooms are currently vacant and seven are closed.

Most of the residents and staff are now due to be moved to Birchwood Care Home in Newbury, but some could be sent to Willows Edge in Newbury or Notrees Care Home in Hungerford.

According to the council, residents are “generally excited” about being moved to modern care homes with ensuite bathrooms and feedback from staff has been “positive”.

Redeploying full-time staff to other care homes which are currently relying on expensive agency staff to fill vacancies may also save the council up to £350,000 a year.

Birchwood Care Home has struggled to recruit full-time staff in recent years and in 2019/20 it spent over £1.3 million on agency staff.

However, the council says residents “could have a negative experience from the closure” of Walnut Close Care Home.

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In a report, the council says: “Evidence supports that mortality rates rise in situations where residents within care homes are moved to a different location or provider.”

However, the council is planning to carry out a detailed risk assessment before moving each resident.

It will also postpone the transfer of residents if there are outbreaks of Covid-19 in Walnut Close or the care homes where they are due to be sent.

The council’s Executive is expected to approve the closure of the care home at a meeting on November 19.