Families’ agony over closure of care home’s disabled unit

Margaret and Bill Smith, of South Shields, whose son Darren is to be moved due to the closure at Falstone Manor, Roker.
Margaret and Bill Smith, of South Shields, whose son Darren is to be moved due to the closure at Falstone Manor, Roker.
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Families have been left distraught after a Sunderland care home revealed plans to close its disabled unit for younger residents.

The young persons physical disability unit at Falstone Manor, in Whitburn Road, Roker, is to close, meaning affected residents will need to find homes.

Falstone Manor in Roker, Sunderland.

Falstone Manor in Roker, Sunderland.

The home, which is run by parent company HC-One, said rising costs and a reduction in demand had been factors in the decision.

But the news has been met with anger from families who say finding suitable new homes for their loved ones could mean having to leave the area.

Among those affected is Margaret Smith, whose son Darren has been living in the unit for the past 10 years after being diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a progressive brain disorder.

Margaret, from South Shields, said: “Darren has one full-time nursing care as he can’t do anything for himself. He is such a pleasant person, when he moved in it was a young person’s disabled unit but a lot of people are older and some of those people are still here.

“We were told everyone would be assessed and if they didn’t meet the new criteria then we would have to look elsewhere for them.

“The meeting we had was horrific, people were crying and no one seems to know what is going on. The whole thing is disgusting. There are only a few residents left, you would think they would allow them to stay and to move people into the empty rooms.

“They’ve said they can’t do that because older people don’t want to live in the same place as young people but you are not talking teenagers, these are people in their late 30s to early 50s, if not older. They also already mix with some of the activities that take place at the home.

“My son is 43 years old. He was a hard worker until he became ill and he was eventually diagnosed with Huntington’s disease.

“I am so angry, it is going to be a huge change for him, that is his home and they are wanting him moved out.”

Another woman, who wished not to be named, said: “My husband is in there. We had a meeting and there was a lady in there who has been living at the unit for a number of years, she has no relatives and she was sitting crying.

“We had no idea this was going to happen until we were told we needed to attend a meeting last week. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen until the assessments are done and they decide who can stay and who needs to go.

“This was the only place I found suitable for my husband locally. A lot of people rely on public transport to get this place, if people will be moved out the area it is going to put a huge strain on families.

“My husband moved in to the unit quite recently compared to the other residents, if they knew they were going to do this, why did they accept him? He is settled in the unit and this is going to have a huge impact on him.”

A meeting of relatives of those living within the unit is set to take place to discuss its closure.

A spokesperson for the home said: “It is with much sadness that we have taken the difficult decision to close the young person’s physical disability unit at Falstone Manor.

“Over recent years, against a backdrop of rising costs, significant shortfall in fee levels for this specialist service and a reduction in demand, it has become increasingly difficult for us to provide a service for people with complex care needs, and to invest in the specialist facilities and staff training required for this specialist service.

“The service has always been highly regarded but we have a responsibility to remain financially sustainable for the benefit of all our homes and Residents.

“It is for this reason that following consultation with the local authority, we have taken the difficult decision to close the service. This does not affect the older person’s residential and nursing care service.

“The decision is based on the long-term best interests of the affected residents, who will benefit from being supported by a provider that can invest in delivering long term specialist care.

“Over the coming weeks we will be working closely with all affected residents, their loved ones, and all appropriate authorities to ensure residents find suitable new care homes or establish care packages which meet their individual care needs.”