A CRISIS-hit South Tyneside care home will close before the end of the year – and could be shut in weeks.
Bosses at St Michael’s View care home, in South Shields, say a decline in demand has left its future ‘financially unviable’.
The closure is the final chapter of a troubled recent history for the care home, which was taken over by Countrywide Care Homes Limited 18 months ago.
The death of 80-year-old resident Joyce Wordingham in February 2010 sparked a wide-ranging police investigation, which looked into 15 other deaths at the care home, which was under the management of now-defunct Southern Cross at the time.
The home, which provides residential, nursing and dementia care, will close once all 21 residents have been transferred to new accommodation.
But Stuart Urwin, 54, whose 87-year-old mother Dorothy Urwin has been a resident at the care home for the past four years since being diagnosed with dementia, says families have been given precious little time to plan for the future of vulnerable relatives.
Mr Urwin, who was told of the bombshell yesterday, said: “I was absolutely devastated. I have been told the home could close in weeks,
“I would have expected to have six months’ notice of a decision like this. It’s not giving people much time a to try to find new accommodation.
“My mother shouldn’t have to be moved to new accommodation in her twilight years. We need to have answers over why this has happened.
“I had no idea this was going to happen until I went into the care home to see my mother. We had been given assurances by Countrywide Care Homes when they took over that the care home would be staying open, and we thought it would be there forever.”
Countrywide Care Homes Limited says it is working to find members of staff employment in its other homes within Tyne and Wear.
Mr Urwin praised the dedication of staff at the home, adding: “They all do an excellent job, there’s never been any problems. They have given excellent care to my mother.”
A Countrywide Care Homes Limited spokesman said “We very much regret having to take this decision as St Michael’s View is no longer financially viable.
“This is largely a result of the difficult economic climate as well as a decline in demand as people are choosing to continue living at home for longer.
“We understand that this may be a difficult time for residents and will do everything we can to support the families and help to find suitable accommodation.
“The council and its partners have provided strong support since Countrywide took over St Michael’s View 18 months ago, and we will continue to work together to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible.”
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council and South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “We are aware of Countrywide’s plans to close St Michael’s View for reasons of financial viability.
“This is an unsettling time for residents and their families and we will provide them with every support to help them find alternative accommodation.”
n Is your family affected by the home’s closure? Call the Gazette on 427 4875.