Devastated campaigners lose battle to save South Shields care home

Protestors John �Rutherford and Sheila and Kim Hollern
Protestors John �Rutherford and Sheila and Kim Hollern

Devestated campaigners have lost a four month fight to save an under-threat care home from the axe.

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

Oakdale Lodge, Stanley Street, South Shields

Oakdale Lodge, Stanley Street, South Shields

Now Orchard Care Homes, which is operating the home on behalf of its owners, investment group Monarch, has announced there is ‘no future’ for the home.

The care home has space for 30 residents, but stopped taking on new ones due to the uncertainty over the building’s future.

The home could close as early as September after 90-day notices were given to staff.

Family members were told Orchard Care Homes was unable to strike a deal over the purchase of the building from landlord Andrew Lapping – but he insists he has had ‘no communication’ from them.

These people are born and bred in South Shields and should be cared for here.

John Rutherford

The care home operators say they will seek to find alternative roles for staff and will work with residents to find new accommodation.

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.

John Rutherford, 58, whose 80-year-old father Jack suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and has been at the home for 18 months, said: “We were gutted when we were told. We believed the company might have tried to buy the building from the landlord.

“There are 25 residents still in there, but 23 are classed as elderly mentally infirm, with my dad being one of them. Finding new homes for them will be tough.

“We are also very disappointed for the staff. They have been excellent.

“I worry about the elderly husbands and wives and relatives of residents who will struggle to travel outside of South Shields to see their loved ones.”

A spokesman for Orchard Care Homes said: “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.

A South Tyneside Council spokeswoman 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.”