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Elderly residents living with dementia and mental health problems will be forced to move next month as Shawe Lodge Nursing Home and Shawe House Care Home in Manchester close down.
Ampersand Care Ltd, the operator of the two homes, said the decision to close the premises was based on being unable to increase the residents' fees and uncertainty that it would be able to meet the care needs of residents in the future.
Umi Barwell, Ampersand Care's operations director, said: “We are heartbroken that we have had to take this incredibly difficult decision. Our priority is always to provide the best care for residents, and we are working closely with every family to find alternative places that are right for each resident.
"The distressing fact is that we are simply not able to provide the levels of care they rightly expect under the current funding arrangement."
Ms Barwell said that fees being paid by Trafford Council over recent years were failing to meet its operating costs, and that a lack of support from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), had ultimately led to the 'disappointing decision'.
The long term issue of underfunding at Shawe Lodge and Shawe House has gradually impacted on the standard of care provided.
In March 2017, a CQC inspection at Shawe Lodge reported that it 'required improvement' and a similar report into Shawe House, published in June 2017, also deemed it as 'requiring improvement'.
As a result, Trafford Council put a temporary suspension on new admissions until improvements were made.
Wake up call
This issue is symptomatic of the funding crisis affecting care homes across the country. In 2017 Care England, the national representative body for independent care providers, commissioned an independent report into the True Cost of Care and Social Care Underfunding. The report estimated that the shortfall in funding for 2016/17 was at least £3bn in England.
Ms Barwell added: “We recognise that local authorities are under huge budget pressures, but social care is vitally important for our ageing population.
"At the same time, the care regulator, which is supposed to support providers to deliver the best care for residents, has been exceptionally unhelpful in relation to both of these homes, appearing unwilling to work with us in the partnership approach you would expect from such an important body.
“We cannot cut corners in care provision. It’s not fair on residents, on their families, or on the dedicated people who work in the care profession. I hope this case acts as a wakeup call to the council. Otherwise other care providers may face the same situation.”
A spokesperson from Trafford Council said: "This decision has not been taken lightly and is due to a combination of regulatory and industry pressures.
"The company has worked hard to maintain the standards of care demanded by the CQC and commissioning authorities, as well as financial viability, but unfortunately this has become increasingly difficult and they are unable to continue with the operation of the homes. The Council has paid both Shawe House and Shawe Lodge above our normal set rate and would refute any claims that our payment structure for the care has been a factor in the closure.
"Our priority is to ensure the least disruption possible to residents and their families and to support them during this difficult time. Suitable alternative placements have now been identified and residents have already started to move to their new homes. Meetings with relatives have taken place and assessments of need are now underway by trained social workers to support relocation to other homes."
Shawe Lodge and Shaw House provide specialist nursing care for more than 70 residents with dementia and mental health problems.