Anger as closing residential care home gives 24 residents just weeks to find a new home
PUBLISHED: 12:47 30 October 2019 | UPDATED: 06:47 31 October 2019
A residential care home in Great Cornard is closing - leaving 24 adult residents with complex special needs just weeks to find a new home before Christmas.
Families of residents at The Dell Care Home, off Cats Lane, have been sent a letter by Lifeways, which manages the service, saying the residential care complex is set to close its doors in early December.
The Dell is currently home to 24 residents housed across eight bungalows, with those that live there receiving round the clock care.
Gwen Taylor, from Glemsford, said her 40-year-old son Mark has lived at The Dell for the past 19 years.
Mark has cerebral palsy and has severe dyspraxia, meaning he cannot speak or communicate with others.
Mrs Taylor said she was shocked to receive the letter on Tuesday evening, adding she felt the short notice of closure was 'inexcusable'.
She said: "He can't look after himself. He is going to be terribly frightened and confused when he moves.
"He won't understand.
"I imagine most of the residents will find it hard.
"It is not just him, there are so many others as well.
"I don't know how they will deal with that number of people, finding a place to live for all of them."
The letter, from regional director Fran Winney, explains Lifeways had taken over the home in 2017, believing it could overcome the 'operational and financial challenges' it faced with the service.
However, following an independent review, the care firm says it could not transform the service to meet current standards of best practice.
The letter reads: "Sadly, we have therefore decided it is in everyone's best interests to close the service and seek better alternatives for individuals and staff."
It goes on to say: "I am very sorry for the upset and distress which this decision will cause.
"I will ensure that we do all we can to make this transition as smooth as possible."
The firm says it will take full responsibility for managing the closure and aims to minimise the impact on its residents.
A spokesman for Lifeways added: "After long and very careful consideration, we have reached the conclusion that the services we currently provide at The Dell do not have a long term future.
"The setting and environment are not compatible with providing high quality care.
"We have been in discussion with Suffolk County Council about the future of The Dell for some time, and we informed them of our decision this week.
"We want to focus on providing care and support in more modern community-based settings, and to people in their own homes.
"Every person we currently support will be helped to move to a new home.
"We will work very closely with the families and carers of the people we support, and the councils who commission their care, to ensure that this is done with the minimum of disruption."
MP James Cartlidge said he had spoken to Suffolk County Council as soon as he was made aware of the residential care home's upcoming closure.
He said: "It is obviously worrying , especially because we are talking about vulnerable people who are being cared for in a setting they will have come to trust.
"This is primarily the responsibility of Suffolk County Council so I have immediately contacted Becky Hopfensperger, cabinet member for adult care.
"She said the council's learning disability and autism team social care team will work with families to ensure everyone is placed in suitable alternative care.
"In terms of the time frame, in a situation like this you would think a longer time would be needed, however, there may ve commercial reasons behind this.
"I think it is incumbent on the provider to work with Suffolk County Council to make sure people living there find a new home."
Councillor Beccy Hopfensperger, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for adult care, said: "Adult Community Services, Suffolk County Council were first informed of the intention of Lifeways to close The Dell residential home for adults with learning disabilities in Sudbury via email letter received on Monday October 28.
"This news will be exceptionally worrying for residents and their families and the main priority for Adult Community Services is the safety and wellbeing of the residents and minimising any future disruption to them.
"Our Learning Disability & Autism Social Work Teams will work with each individual resident and their families through this difficult period to make sure there are suitable plans in place. Alongside this, our Contracts and Service Development team will be meeting with Lifeways later this week to explore all possible opportunities."