A POOLE care home that was warned to make improvements last year is to be closed by its operator because it is no longer viable.

Heathlands in Constitution Hill Road has 50 beds, but only 26 are occupied at the moment.

Care South, which is handing back the lease to the council after 21 years, says all residents will be given the chance to move to another of its 12 care homes in Bournemouth and Poole.

Health and social care watchdog the Care Quality Commission identified some problems at the home last May, and after a follow-up visit, Heathlands was ordered to keep better records. The shortfalls were quickly rectified, but Care South – a not for profit charity– has decided to pull the plug.

Chief executive Susan Willoughby said: “We greatly regret that we have had to come to a decision to close Heathlands care home.

“We are concentrating our efforts on working closely with Borough of Poole and all residents and their families to ensure the transition is dealt with sensitively. We will be helping to find appropriate and suitable alternative accommodation for all the residents.”

She added that the company was also talking to members of staff about finding alternative jobs, including other positions within Care South.

Care South chairman Felicity Irwin said the borough’s closure of nearby buildings, including the Fourways Day Centre, had been a major factor.

“It has just made the whole atmosphere less attractive and therefore less appealing to people visiting. We’re taking the decision at a time when we can move the residents somewhere comfortable, where they can be cared for in the same way.

“Staff are obviously disappointed but they’ve been assured there are positions. As far as relatives are concerned, they feel it’s appropriate.

“They have been concerned and have seen the situation evolving.

“I think we have made the right decision.”

Jan Thurgood, strategic director at the Borough of Poole, said: “Our priority is to work with Care South to ensure residents at Heathlands are fully informed about the choices available to them and help them move as easily as possible to new homes.

“We understand that it is difficult for both residents and their families when a care home closes but we are confident that the alternatives available to the residents will be suitable for their every needs.”

Representatives of Care South and the borough will be meeting residents and their families over the next week to help them decide on suitable new homes. Each resident is being allocated a social worker. It is hoped that all residents will have moved by March.

Plans for another site undecided

CARE South has confirmed that it has no immediate plans to redevelop another of its homes, Alexandra House in Parkstone.

Last September, the Echo revealed that the charity wanted to pull down the existing 1960s home, which has space for 39 residents, and build a new specialist dementia and nursing home with 60 en-suite bedrooms.

Care South bought land next to the current home for the expansion and the site has been cleared of a derelict hostel and several trees in preparation for building.

Chairman Felicity Irwin said: “It is part of Care South’s strategy for the future. We hope to gain planning permission but we won’t be moving immediately into a new build programme. When we do, we will be advising everybody and making suitable arrangements.

“We have a number of things going on with our homes at the present time. We have the money, but we don’t feel it’s the right time.”

Care South has 20 homes and runs a domiciliary care firm. It employs more than 1,600 people.