Health fears for home move woman, 103

FEARS have been expressed over the health of a 103-year-old woman facing the imminent closure of her care home.Great-grandmother Mrs Elsie Ife is said to be upset and depressed about leaving her home, although it was denied she had been on hunger strike in protest.

FEARS have been expressed over the health of a 103-year-old woman facing the imminent closure of her care home.

Great-grandmother Mrs Elsie Ife is said to be upset and depressed about leaving her home, although it was denied she had been on hunger strike in protest.

Mrs Ife was told she must move to new very sheltered housing in Reydon because of county council plans to demolish Hillfield residential home for the elderly in Reydon. It wants to sell off the site for housing after deciding in 1997 it was uneconomic to improve the home to meet new Government standards.

Anthony Douglas, director of social care services for Suffolk County Council, said: "Elsie Ife is not on a hunger strike and is eating regularly. Staff looking after Elise are taking great care to respond to her needs and have been monitoring her progress following a recent stay in hospital which left her feeling groggy and affected her appetite temporarily.

"Elsie is upset about her move to a new home, but we are working hard with Elsie's family and friends to ensure that her move is handled with the utmost sensitivity.

"Our staff are trained to help older people cope with big changes such as a move to a new home."

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Mrs Ife's friend Jean Peel, 62, of Reydon, started visiting her every week after getting to know her while visiting her late mother in the home seven years ago.

She said: "Elise was in bed when I saw her on Tuesday and she didn't say anything to me. I tried to get her to have drink from a tumbler of water because I could see her lips were parched and she really needed some fluid in her, but she refused. She just told me, 'No, I don't want it.'

"Elsie has been at the home for at least the last ten years and just wants to live out her days there in peace.

"It is a great shame because there is nothing wrong with her brain. Some residents there do not know what day it is, but she is as bright as anything.

"I know she hasn't been drinking properly for a long time. She just has enough to keep herself going. I don't know if she is eating or not because I never see her at meal times and she never really ate a lot anyway."

Sharon Hurren, home manager of Hillfield residential home, dismissed reports that Mrs Ife was on "hunger strike".

She said: "The report has really angered Elsie's family and they are devastated. We are only a few months away from closing and it has upset everyone here."

Mrs Ife's niece Jean Ife of Reydon said: "What is happening with her is very sad. I don't really want to talk about it."

Mrs Ife was born in nearby Wangford and used to live in Frostenden with her late farm worker husband and their daughter Anne, who now lives in Felixstowe and was unavailable for comment.

Mrs Peel added: "There has been talk about the home closing for the last three or four years. She and other residents have had to go to meetings with council people who have explained the situation to them.

"But she does not want to leave because she is so settled there and she knows the staff so well. She is worried and depressed about moving.

"The council say the home has to close because it needs to be improved with things like en-suite bathrooms - but Elsie is happy with things as they are. It seems such a shame to close down such a lovely place."

Hillfield residential home has ten permanent residents and Mrs Ife will be transferred to Pitchers View, a purpose built very sheltered housing scheme in Reydon, with seven other residents in November.

According to Suffolk County Council, Hillfield does not conform to current care home standards because the rooms are small and the facilities are communal, while Pitchers View will provide high quality care and facilities and Elsie will be looked after in a extra care unit.

The council are opening five very sheltered housing schemes in the county as part of their residential care strategy to ensure all homes fulfil the care home standards and this involved the sale of four homes, closure of two and the refurbishment of three existing homes.