Suddenly, my 94-year-old great aunt must leave her care home

By Anna Tims
My great aunt has to leave the care home where she has made friends, after a challenging move from her own home.
My great aunt has to leave the care home where she has made friends, after a challenging move from her own home. Photograph: Tetra Images, LLC/Alamy

My 94-year-old great-aunt, along with other residents, has been given six weeks to leave her care home, the Peele in Wythenshawe, which is closing for refurbishment.

She has no short-term memory and has made friends at the Peele after a challenging move from her own home. We had spent a lot of time looking for a suitable home and now have to find somewhere else, at short notice, in the middle of a pandemic. Some residents are receiving end-of-life care and have dementia. There has been no discussion with families, just an announcement building work will make the home unsuitable.

AC, Manchester

Equilibrium Healthcare, which took over the Peele complex last year, told me that the six weeks is not a deadline, but the estimated time required to relocate residents. It insists that a social worker will liaise with families for as long as it takes to find a suitable alternative.

Your great-aunt faces being uprooted at a time when, due to Covid, many care homes are not accepting new applicants and those that are will require newcomers to self-isolate for 10 days.

The NHS guide to managing care home closures states that “communication is key” and that closure should be prevented if it’s not in the best interests of the residents.

Equilibrium Healthcare tells me that its plans, to create an “innovative and world-leading elderly care facility”, were communicated to “stakeholders” before its take­over last October, and in subsequent meetings, but admits that it was only last month that families were informed that the home would be closed during the building works.

These works appear to be aspirational rather than essential. The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which regulates care homes, confirmed that the redesign was not required following an inspection. So while the work may benefit future residents, you understandably feel they are not in the “best interests” of those who will lose their home.

Moreover, there’s no guarantee of returning when the works are completed next year, since residents must reapply and be reassessed for admission.

Equilibrium says that an upgrade is required. “No resident will ever be made ‘homeless’,” it says. “While we understand that the move may be upsetting to our service users and families, we stipulated that we will not be putting a timeframe on the relocation, and the service user will continue to reside at the Peele until an alternative is found.”

Equilibrium, which is a private care provider, says it is working closely with Manchester council. Councillor Joanna Midgley, executive member for health and care, says relocation is necessary for construction and refurbishment.

“We will be working alongside the care providers and the residents’ families to ensure that we can place them in suitable alternative accommodation over the next six to eight weeks, making sure their transition to a new home is as smooth as possible,” she says.

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