Families fight to save dementia care home from the axe

FAMILIES have united in a bid to save a South Tyneside dementia care home which could face the axe.

Oakdale Lodge, in Stanley Street, South Shields, may have to close because the building’s landlord has entered talks with a third party to redevelop the site.

Protestors against the closure of Oakdale Lodge, led by John Rutherford, front, with Sheila and Kim Hollern

Protestors against the closure of Oakdale Lodge, led by John Rutherford, front, with Sheila and Kim Hollern

Executive Care, which runs the home, held an emergency meeting on Tuesday to inform residents’ families that the home’s future was now under “serious review”.

John Rutherford, his sister Sheila Hollern. 55, and niece Kim Hollern, 20 – along with others connected to the home – have now launched a petition to keep the building open.

Most of the 30 residents suffer from dementia.

They have also placed banners along the care home’s fence, which can be seen from Boldon Lane and managed to collect in the region of 800 signatures of support within the last two days.

Meanwhile, care home bosses have said managers are exploring all options to “find a sustainable and viable way ahead”.

The landlord was unavailable for comment.

Mr Rutherford, 58, whose dad Jack Rutherford, 80, lives at Oakdale, said: “The news has come as a shock and left us all feeling a little bit numb, to be honest.

“Oakdale is such a lovely place and the staff are wonderful, we wanted to at least try and do something to help it stay.

“My niece launched the online petition and my sister and I printed off forms and placed them in all of the local shops.

“We’ve also been knocking on doors of the nearby homes to let people know what’s happening, most didn’t haven’t a clue.

“Everyone feels the same – they want the care home to stay, and they’re all in support.”

Mr Rutherford says his father has visited other homes in the borough before his arrival at Oakdale 14 months ago.

However, he said due to its compact size this has been the best care home he’s stayed at.

Mr Rutherford said: “My father has advanced Alzheimer’s disease, but before he went into the home we looked after him and once or twice he’d visited other homes for respite care,

“But we’ve found Oakdale is far better. Just this week the residents have been taking part in a seashore art project and making Marsden Rock and underwater scenes.

“On Valentine’s Day there was a singer there, the staff made cards, the ladies got roses and the men got chocolate.

“It’s so friendly and my father is settled here, the staff know what he’s like. The thought of him and the other residents having to be potentially rehomed is awful and we hope it doesn’t come to this.”

A spokesman for Execute Care said: “We understand the strength of feeling. Oakdale Lodge is rightly loved by residents, their families and our dedicated staff. The uncertainty surrounding the future of the home is very unsettling for everyone.

“Management is continuing to work hard, liaising with the local council, exploring all options to find a sustainable and viable way ahead.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazvez

MP vows to help worried families

SOUTH Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has vowed to find answers into what’s going on at an under-threat care home.

A number of concerned relatives visited Mrs Lewell-Buck at her surgery in Ede House, Westoe Road, South Shields, yesterday.

They informed the Labour MP of the uncertainties surrounding the potential closure of Oakdale Lodge.

Now Mrs Lewell-Buck says she will be contacting Executive Care to find out exactly what’s going on.

She said: “The families have a lot of unanswered questions about what exactly is going on at the care home.

“These people are so concerned they have came along to see me to ask for help.

“It’s unfair for people to be left in the dark like this and to face such uncertain times.

“They have been told that the care home’s future is in jeopardy, but nobody can give them real answers, like who owns the building and what exactly the plans are for it.

Ms Lewell-Buck added: “I have a list of questions here and I will be pressing for answers.”