FAMILIES of residents living in a Basingstoke care home, which will close down in the autumn, are launching a campaign to have the building used for respite care.

Deeside, in Alliston Way, South Ham, was one of three care homes earmarked for closure by Hampshire County Council (HCC), which claims it would cost £2.3million to bring it up to modern standards.

Many residents have now moved out of the home in South Ham after the council announced in December that it would close, despite receiving a petition of more than 17,000 signatures opposing the home closure plans.

Around 20 residents, many of whom have dementia, are still being cared for at Deeside and some of their relatives are now putting pressure on the council to utilise the facilities and the 13 empty beds until the building shuts in the autumn.

Teresa Kerr, whose 81-year-old mother Sheila Rich is a Deeside resident, said: “When we did the petition in the summer to save Deeside, people told us how desperate they were for respite care. That’s why it’s so shameful. These facilities are needed in Basingstoke.”

She added: “We have got 10 months where Deeside could really help people in Basingstoke.”

Les Wyatt, whose mother Eileen lives at Deeside, added: “There are 13 empty beds there that people need. That’s the bottom line.”

The campaigners’ long-term aim is to persuade the council to transform Deeside into a specialist dementia care facility, rather than knocking it down and using the land for housing.

A petition will be launched by the group on February 15 at 11am in Basingstoke town centre, and this will be presented to HCC.

Campaigners wrote to Basingstoke MP Maria Miller about using the empty beds at Deeside. She responded to say she had written to the director of adult services at HCC on their behalf.

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for adult social care and public health, said: “The decision made by the county council’s cabinet in relation to Deeside residential care home was that the building should be closed once the new dementia specialist wing at Oakridge House Care Home, in Basingstoke, opens in autumn this year.

“The transition will be carefully planned and managed, with staff and social workers supporting residents and families to ensure consistent quality of care during this period of change.

“The county council’s priority is its duty of care for current residents at Deeside. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to offer the home as a temporary respite facility – particularly when Basingstoke has a number of dedicated respite care facilities already in existence, including at Oakridge.