Granddaughter speaks out on closing Morecambe care home

Zara Cummins with her grandmother Dorothy Tomlinson, a resident at Morecambe Bay Care Home which will be closing.
Zara Cummins with her grandmother Dorothy Tomlinson, a resident at Morecambe Bay Care Home which will be closing.

Families with relatives at an “inadequate” Morecambe care home have been left in limbo after being told the home is to close.

Morecambe Bay Care Home, in Gleneagles Drive near Broadway Bridge, was placed into special measures after being rated ‘Inadequate’ at its inspection by health watchdogs.

Bosses at Four Seasons Health Care have now said the home will shut.

This leaves 61 residents looking for new homes.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors found a host of issues with the home, including risks to residents not being minimised, staff not being effectively deployed and people not being protected from abuse or avoidable harm.

Individual care and support was also often lacking, the August report said.

Zara Cummins, whose 79-year-old grandmother Dorothy Tomlinson lives in the home, said she has previously raised numerous complaints with staff about levels of care.

Concerns included her wheelchair-bound grandmother not being positioned in chairs properly or showered regularly.

“Action should have been taken sooner to prevent this from happening,” she said. “I feel that Four Seasons have allowed this to occur unnecessarily.

“If they had invested the appropriate reasources, changes could have been made.

“My grandmother has lived at the home for seven years, and her care has never been to the standard it should be.

“This is despite me complaining to various managers at the home, writing to the CEO of the company and also informing CQC and social services on various occasions.

“It became an endless battle. A lot of my issues were basic things. I just want my nana and the other residents to have the best care.”

Zara said she had already been looking for a new nursing home for her grandmother, due to being unhappy with her care.

She is unable to go into a residential home as she needs specific nursing care.

Zara said relatives were told at a meeting on Wednesday evening by Lancashire County Council’s head of social care services Kathleen Barren that they would be supported to find appropriate homes and that there is no timescale on residents moving out.

“When I raised concerns about the homes in the area and issues with third party top-ups for some homes, which I cannot afford, I was told that all the care and support would be given to ensure the right placement was found.

“However, there are not many homes in the area which have a ‘Good’ CQC rating or where I feel comfortable sending my grandmother to and when I was sent a list of homes with available beds in them on September 4 there was only two homes in the local area with spaces.

“Therefore ultimately families are going to have to move relatives at some point regardless of how they may feel and with no help from the local authority to waiver any third party top-up fees or contribute toward them, which I feel under the circumstances they should do.”

Zara added: “We have been assured that their priority now is to keep residents safe and well looked after whilst assessments are made and transitions to new homes are put into place.

“However this has been their failing all along so how can they now assure these promises, when effectively staff are potentially going to be leaving to look for new jobs.

“We are all very aware of the crisis in the health and social care sector, specifically relating to elderly care.

“This is a very unfortunate example of this and those within the care sector and local government should be held accountable for this homes failings, as if the right care attention was given to the home perhaps the situation would be much different.

“I would like to know as relatives how we are supposed to place our relatives into homes when there are only nine within a five mile radius which have a Good CQC rating and the rest having a Requires Improvement rating – why would I want to send my nana to a home that has similar issues to the home that she is being asked to leave?

“The implications this will have on the residents and on other nursing homes will be massive.

“It’s frustrating and upsetting that this has been allowed to happen.”

Rachael Junge, regional managing director of Four Seasons Health Care, said: “The proposal to cease operating the home has not been arrived at easily and it is based on a combination of factors.

“We have had local difficulties in recruiting and retaining nurses and carers with the right level of skills, which has resulted in challenges to maintain care quality to the standards that we expect all of our homes to provide and that the residents deserve.

“We are appreciative that so many of our residents and their relatives have said that they are happy with the care and support provided by our permanent staff team.

“However, the home has a continuing history of poor Care Quality Commission inspection outcomes during recent years and it has struggled for too long.

“The wellbeing of residents is our priority and we will work closely with Lancashire County Council’s Social Services team to ensure that the residents and their families are supported to find suitable alternative placements.

“Morecambe Bay Care Home will continue to provide care while we allow plenty of time for the most appropriate arrangements to be made for all residents and we will do everything we can to ensure there is no disruption to their care during the transition.”

Tony Pounder, director of Adult Services for Lancashire County Council, said: “This is a difficult time for the residents at Morecambe Bay Care Home and their families.

“Our priority is to ensure they are safe and well, and can be relocated to other care homes that can fully meet their needs.

“Situations like this are obviously very unsettling and it’s important that people have good support in place. We’ve provided each person with a social worker or nurse assessor to give them expert help and advice throughout the process.

“In addition, our staff will work with each person affected by the closure to find alternative care or nursing homes that will provide the best support for them.

“We’ll do all we can to ensure everyone is safe, settled and well.”

There are currently 61 people in the home, below its capacity of 86.

They are being cared for by 108 permanent and a number of temporary staff.

The company is beginning a consultation process with the care team about the proposed closure.

Rachael Junge added: “We will consider applications for staff to transfer to other homes, subject to there being suitable vacancies, although we recognise that travel may be a prohibitive factor.”