UK news Families fear elderly relatives 'might die' as Cambs home prepares to close last minute news
MetiNews.Com - The charity said 'any assertion that we will be evicting residents is categorically false'
Breaking News ! A home for the elderly in Cambridge has been accused of “effectively evicting” vulnerable residents and acting “callously” during the pandemic. The South Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have hit out at the charity Abbeyfield Society, which runs Burdett House in Station Road, Histon. The group says Abbeyfield delivered a letter to residents on June 24 saying it intended to stick as closely as possible to a closure by June 30 – having said months before it would pause its closure plans. The charity said in March “no resident will be asked by Abbeyfield to move, or visit any potential new residence, while the Government advocates a social distancing policy for older people”. The South Cambs Lib Dems said the letter resuming the end of June closure target had “given a week’s notice of closure and effective eviction in the midst of a pandemic” to “distressed" residents, all of whom are over the age of 80. They branded it an “unethical U-turn on a previous assurance”. 'Wholeheartedly apologise' Abbeyfield Society has apologised “wholeheartedly” for the letter notifying residents the June 30 closure target had resumed, saying “this was sent in error”. “We quickly remedied this by sending a further communication which made clear that no resident will be asked to move before suitable new accommodation has been found. To be entirely clear, any assertion that we will be evicting residents is categorically false,” a spokesperson said. Join the #IAmOpen community and give your business a boost Access to lots of FREE tools to help stabilise your business and start making up for lost time is just one newsletter sign up away. As part of our #IAmOpen community to help and support small businesses owners like you, you will get a regular newsletter from our journalists plus we'll let you know how you can: get exclusive access to business webinars have a single-page website landing page made montage video created book an online marketing heath check report and bag discounted advertising rates just made for our mates.What’s more, it’s all FREE. So sign up here right now. It’s very least we can do to back you, support you and just say THANK YOU. When asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service the charity said it does not have a new target closure date, but while it said it would not stay open indefinitely, it said it would not evict residents who do not want to leave. In its statement on the issue the charity said: “As the government has now reduced the threat level of coronavirus, has eased social distancing policies, and has advised that it is safe for people to view and move to new accommodation, we are confident the closure can now resume in a safe and managed way. “Our first priority is always the health and wellbeing of our residents and staff team, however it remains a fact that Burdett House must be closed as it is no longer suitable accommodation for the residents living there and is not financially sustainable." 'No resident will be forced to leave' The charity said the planned closure follows an 18-month review and a four-month consultation process. It said the decision to close was “difficult” but that “no suitable proposals were forthcoming that could guarantee the long-term financial sustainability of the home”. Abbeyfield acknowledged it sent out two letters to residents, one dated June 18 and the other June 26, and both seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service. In the first letter it said: “The closure was originally planned to be complete by the end of June 2020, and as far as possible we’re keen to stick to this deadline." In the second letter it said: “By saying we intend to stick to the original schedule as closely as possible, that is not to say that any unnecessary pressure is placed on any resident. No resident will be ‘forced’ to leave at the end of June.
. 'They should hang their heads in shame' Matt Harris’ mother, who is in her eighties, has lived in the home for three years. He said: “I know my mum was very upset by this, as were other residents. It was a shock. “I had told my mum that Abbeyfield had said in writing that there would be no moving until the social distancing protocol had come to an end. And I don’t think – I think most people would say the same – nobody sees social distancing coming to an end in a hurry.” Mr Harris, who is 54 and lives in Cambridge, said that asking people in their eighties and nineties to move during a pandemic that is known to affect the elderly risks fatalities. “They might die. It’s not too dramatic to say that,” he said. “They say it’s not eviction – well call it what you like, but Abbeyfield are actively encouraging old vulnerable people to leave their home as soon as possible,” he said. Noting Abbeyfield is a charity, he said “they should hang their heads in shame”. He called Abbeyfield's statement's "mealy-mouthed sophistry". Sonia Reid said her 97-year-old mother found a “haven” when she moved into the home in June last year. Petition against 'pressure on residents' She said a few residents thought the letter – which she said was dated June 18 but received on June 24 – was giving a closure notice. She also said relatives were not directly sent a copy, despite the charity having their contact details and being aware of their concerns over the closure. She said it had been “poorly handled” by Abbeyfield and said residents should be given at least a further six months because of the pandemic and their inability to “adequately” visit and test other homes.
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The South Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have set up a petition calling on the CEO of Abbeyfield, David McCullough, to intervene and “stop all types of pressure on residents to find alternative accommodation during the pandemic”. The petition says: “How can anyone ask a vulnerable person to put themselves and fellow residents at such risk right now when there have been outbreaks of infection in other care homes in the area? “How do they expect residents to deal with the constant fear that at any moment they will be homeless? As Brian, one of the residents, said pointing to his head: ‘It’s the stress up here that gets you and makes you ill.'" The South Cambs Lib Dems refer to Burdett House as a care home, something Abbeyfield rejects. It says “all residents living at Burdett House are private tenants who are subject to the same coronavirus guidance as the general population – meaning the government has deemed it safe for them to have visits both inside and outdoors, providing they follow the appropriate social distancing guidance." On the issue of not contacting family members about resuming the closure plans, a spokesperson for Abbeyfield said: “As the residents all have the mental capacity and legal right to make their own decisions about their housing, it is entirely appropriate that we communicate with them directly about decisions that affect them, unless they have nominated another person to act on their behalf. In such a case, a letter would also be sent to the nominated individual. “That said, we do our best to keep relatives up-to-date throughout and endeavour to engage with them openly, when appropriate."