Safe Harbor buys former care home
December 13th 2011
The Hillport House centre (to be renamed as Florence House), Porthill, for people with dementia, has stood empty since Staffordshire County Council closed it in the summer when there were three residents left. The local authority has already agreed a sale of the two-storey property in Porthill Bank. And now Safe Harbor which runs two homes in Trentham and one in Shropshire has submitted an application to Newcastle Borough Council to add four bedrooms to the first floor and make the downstairs lounge bigger. Behind the proposal is the Safe Harbor group (trading name of Resimed) , which owns Newpark House and Haversham House in Trentham. The company said any moves were only at a "very early stage" and legalities were still been processed meaning further developments were many months away. Managing director Caroline Ankers said: "We specialise in providing dementia nursing care and if this plan goes ahead we would want to do that at Hillport House. "Quite a bit of work needs doing so it won't be opening any time soon." The exact numbers of jobs to be created has yet to be revealed. The 28-place unit was the only council-run specialist home of its kind in North Staffordshire before its closure in July left its 45 staff facing redundancy or redeployment. The authority intended to use proceeds of the sale to open a new specialist dementia unit to provide intermediate care for sufferers. It is set to be based in The Brampton, Newcastle, at the former Homestead home, which shut more than three years ago. A county council spokesman said: "A sale of Hillport House has been agreed and is currently going through. "We cannot comment further while it is going through that process." No reasons were given for the plummeting numbers of residents, but some staff claimed referrals started falling when it received a poor inspection rating even though it had previously had an "excellent" one. Then the closure blow was announced before it could be given a follow-up inspection. People living near Hillport House welcomed the prospect of Hillport House having a new lease of life. Margaret Wilcox, chairman of Porthill Residents' Association, said: "Hillport House is in an ideal spot and it is not good to have an empty building that will only fall into disrepair so we wish this venture good luck."