The real cost of closing down a care home

It is one of the most difficult decisions we will ever make - looking for a care or nursing home for a loved one.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 14th March 2017, 7:14 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:51 am
Care homes
Care homes

And yet despite all the research and foot-slogging, it can still go wrong.

David Johnstone, whose aunt Margaret Swarbrick has had to move out of Grimsargh House Care Home aged 99 years and 11 months, knows the devastation that can cause.

The home in Preston Road was shut down on Friday evening after it was deemed to pose a “serious risk to a person’s life, health or well-being.”

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The Care Quality Commission (CQC) made the urgent court application for closure last week.

Home manager Lianne Webb said the problem was unsafe electrics caused by flooding, and the closure was not related to a court case over the home being rated as ‘inadequate”.

The home was placed into special measures last April

Mr Johnstone, from Longridge, said his aunt had not experienced any maltreatment at the £496-a-week home, but had been left distressed by the sudden closure, which has seen her moved to Longridge Hall.

He said: “I was in Lanzarote all week and I got told that all the residents were being taken to the Tickled Trout hotel for three days because there was a problem.

“Then suddenly I heard that the home was closing. They (the staff) didn’t bother ringing me, even though I have power of attorney, I had to hear off my family.

“I’ve spent all my holiday with my mobile to my ear trying to help sort things out. Luckily, my two sisters have been able to get to the home and help.

“My aunt’s been in the home for quite a few years and has been happy, so this sudden move has caused a lot of upset.

“There’s meant to be a month’s notice, and that’s obviously not happened. Luckily we’ve been able to find a new place, and the social workers from Lancashire County Council have been superb.”

Lancashire County Council (LCC) has been working to relocate residents and has vowed to keep tabs on their well-being in coming weeks.

Mr Johnstone said he will now be chasing the home owner, Chris McKenzie of Button Space Ltd, for money owed.

He said: “I paid £1,960 on Monday and now the home’s closed. I’ve tried to get in touch, but haven’t got anywhere.”

After first declining to comment, bosses at the home confirmed the closure has affected 14 residents and has caused 17 members of staff to lose their jobs.

Ms Webb said the situation was “heartbreaking”.

She said: “The problem was nothing to do with being rated as inadequate, it was to do with flooding from a nearby farm that affected all our electrics.

“It’s a shame because there was quite a lot of work that had been done to improve things and we were heading in the right direction. We will be looking to reopen and I know the residents would want that.”

Post readers have 
commented that they too have been affected by the closure. Julie Grime said: “We received a call on Tuesday evening to say the CQC had applied to the court to close the home and received the call late on Wednesday evening saying we had till 5pm on Friday to find an alternative home otherwise LCC would place resident where beds are free - a sleepless night with worry of what we would do.

“The staff at the home are now all out of work through no fault of their own.”

Emma O’Neill said: “My grandad was in this home and has now been moved to Longridge Hall.

“Chris McKenzie still owes my grandad and I’m sure other residents this month’s fees, but he is not answering his emails or phone calls.”

Last year owner Mr McKenzie said he was taking the CQC to court over the April inspection report which stated the service was not safe, not effective, not responsive, not well-led and some aspects were not caring.

A spokesman for the CQC said:

“This action was taken following an order made by Manchester Magistrates’ Court, after an urgent application by the CQC to cancel their registration.

These orders are made when the Court agrees that there is a serious risk to a person’s life, health or well-being.

The CQC is working closely with Lancashire County Council to ensure the safety of residents who have been receiving accommodation services from this provider at Grimsargh House Care Home in Preston.”