Campaigner gives up fight to save South Shields care home

Oakdale Lodge, Stanley Street, South Shields
Oakdale Lodge, Stanley Street, South Shields

A devastated campaigner says he has finally given up his fight to save a care home from closure.

The future of Oakdale Lodge Care Home, in Stanley Street, South Shields, has been in doubt since February, when its operators launched a review into the business after landlord Andrew Lapping entered talks to sell the site to a nearby supermarket.

John Rutherford with fellow campaigners protesting against the closure of Oakdale Lodge.

John Rutherford with fellow campaigners protesting against the closure of Oakdale Lodge.

Then in June, Orchard Care Homes, which operates the home on behalf of investment group Monarch, announced that the home had ‘no future’ after they were unable to strike a deal to buy the building.

Businessman Mr Lapping entered talks with supermarket firm Lidl, which has a store nearby, after the firm he leased the care home to on a 10-year agreement five years ago, Executive Care Group, went into administration and was bought out by private investment firm Monarch Alternative Capital.

Mr Lapping said he was unsure of Monarch’s plans for the care home but has stated he was willing to listen to all offers. Despite 90- day notices being given to staff, John Rutherford refused to give up hope of saving the specialist dementia care home and met town MP Emma Lewell-Buck and approached other care homes which have been be interested in taking over the site.

But hopes of a new owner taking on the care home as a going concern have been dashed – with just two residents and two members of staff remaining on site ahead of impending closure next month.

The majority of staff and the 25 residents cared for have now found alternative employment and accommodation respectively.

Mr Rutherford, whose father Jack was a resident for over 18 months, joined fellow campaigners staging a placard-carrying protest against the proposals in March, while three petitions were signed by more than 3,000 people eager to see the home stay open.

Mr Rutherford has now found his dad a place at Windsor Nursing Home, in Hebburn, and laments the fact staff and residents could not be ‘kept together’.

The 58-year-old said: “We have lost the fight to keep the care home open.

“There are just two residents and three staff memnbers still on site until the closure next month.

“I have put my dad in Windsor Nursing Home, in Hebburn. I had no other choice.

“We have done everything we can to keep the home open. It is very, very disappointing.

“The ideal outcome was to keep everyone together, staff and residents under the one roof in South Shields.

“We gave it a good go, but unfortunately the home will close.”

A Orchard Care Homes said when announcing the closure: “While the team at Oakdale Lodge have worked tirelessly to provide a future for the home, residents and staff, following an extensive review the owners have concluded that the home doesn’t have a future as a residential care home and have taken the difficult decision to close the home.

“The closure will be completed in collaboration with the regulator and local authority, with the primary consideration being around supporting our residents find new homes and supporting our staff find alternative positions.”

South Tyneside Council added: “This is an unsettling time for residents and their families and we will provide them with every support to help them find alternative accommodation.”