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Town to lose another care home

PUBLISHED: 21:46 02 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:13 24 February 2010

A LONG-ESTABLISHED care home for the elderly is to close because its owners cannot afford to meet new Government standards and a shortfall in social services funding.

A LONG-ESTABLISHED care home for the elderly is to close because its owners cannot afford to meet new Government standards and a shortfall in social services funding.

Families with relatives at Ellesborough House in Southwold have been sent letters telling them the home will close on March 31 with the loss of 12 jobs.

Owner Michel Bougard, who has run the home with his wife Patricia for nine years, said the couple deeply regretted making "this most painful" decision.

He explained to the families of the 13 residents they had made the decision after carrying out an "in-depth review where every aspect of running the home was considered to see if there was any way in which we could continue".

Mr Bougard added: "The ever-increasing burden of the present Government's legislative programme over the past few years, combined with the inability of Suffolk social services to adequately fund residential care, has resulted in this decision."

Shirley Oldman said the decision meant her stepfather Jim Watson would have to be found a new home for the second time. The 84-year-old, who has dementia, was a resident at nearby Marlborough House, which shut about three years ago.

"I was absolutely shaken. I feel very worried because Jim has been so very happy and content there," she added.

Her mother Elizabeth Watson, 88, was worried she would no longer be able to visit her husband if he had to move to a home out of town.

"I walk round there every morning and I do the flowers and wash the coffee cups and stay until lunchtime, which is lovely for me," she said.

Care assistant Sue Grove said nine residents were funded by social services, but there was an £80 gap per person in the money the home received and what they needed to survive.

The home could not afford to meet the new guidelines, which would involve installing a lift and providing en-suite toilets.

"They can no longer afford to keep the home running. There are two residents over 100 and to move them is going to be heartbreaking. I feel sorry not only for the residents, but for Mr and Mrs Bougard – it's been their life," she added.

Christine Reeves, manager of St Barnabas, the last surviving residential home in the town, said she had received many phone calls from worried relatives hoping they could find accommodation for their loved ones in the town.

But under Government rules, the number of beds had already been cut and there were no vacancies.

"We would love to extend our facilities because there is a great demand, but we just can't get the money. It just seems crazy," she added.


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