Disabled residents face uncertainty after Harpenden care home threatened with closure (From St Albans & Harpenden Review)
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Disabled residents face uncertainty after Redclyffe care home, in Harpenden, threatened with closure
Disabled residents in Harpenden face three "traumatic" and uncertain years ahead of them as their care home has been threatened with closure.
The charity Scope has announced plans to close Redclyffe in Salisbury Avenue because it does not think "the old fashioned care home offers disabled people the kind of say that everyone else has over where they live, who they live with and how their money is spent".
The home, which has been open for 38 years, cares for people aged between 40 and 90 years of age with cerebral palsy, in addition to people with other physical and mental disabilities.
Care home manager Barney Ng informed residents on Monday and the news was met with confusion and shock by the eighteen residents.
Mr Ng, who has been at Redclyffe for 14 years, said the news came as a surprise.
Mr Ng said: "Scope have told us they hope to make their decision in 2016.
"It is going to be a traumatic three years for residents because of the uncertainty over where they are going to live.
"I understand the rationale behind it because they are trying to encourage residents to be more independent, however it is going to be a tough journey because there aren't any concrete plans.
"My greatest sorrow is for the residents because of the anxiety they are going to feel.
"It will now be my priority to offer support and assurance to all of them.
Speaking of his own sadness, Mr Ng added: "I am going to be very sad when it comes to an end. I will be still standing here when the light goes off."
It is now thought Scope will consult with local authorities and social workers to determine what the residents think and find out where they would like to go.
However long-standing resident Veronica Howes said she does not want to go anywhere else and enjoys daily visits to the town, where she has got to know many faces in the community.
The 65-year-old said: "Everyone is very shocked and upset.
"I don’t want to leave Harpenden. I have built a life here in Harpenden. Now I am scared I will have to go back to Essex.
"The friends and staff have become my family. We all want to fight against this."
Vicky Wareham, a former support worker at Redclyffe, said there was uproar amongst residents, families and workers.
Ms Wareham visited on Saturday and said many of the residents were crying and talking non-stop about the proposals.
She worked at Redclyffe for two years before leaving in May.
Ms Wareham said: "Redclyffe is an amazing place to work. The residents are so lovely and sweet. They made the job what it was and we were constantly laughing.
"Some of the residents do not have family of their own so it is a family unit there.
"Scope does not seem to be listening to their own advice.
"When training we are always told to value the customer. However they don’t seem to be valuing the customer and have gone completely against what they preach.
"Some of the residents, with dementia for example, won’t have the capacity to tell Scope what they want."
Ms Wareham argued residents at Redclyffe continued to be independent, with some visiting the town every day, whereas others even made journeys into London.
She said: "We have a couple who are not married and really worried about being split up.
"I am very concerned about the older residents because evidence suggests that when older people are moved, they tend to die.
"They need to think about this decision very carefully, because it could be a matter of saving lives."
Peter Walker, Scope regional director for Central, said they would now consult with the residents, their families, staff and local authorities before making a decision.
He said: "This is part of a wider trend, prompted by disabled people, away from institutional, segregated care homes towards the kind of support where disabled people have choice and control over the services they receive and are treated as citizens.
"Lots of our care homes were opened in the 1970s. In the last five years we’ve changed or closed ten of these more old fashioned services.
"We’ve decided it was time to step up our work. We have reviewed all of our care homes for disabled adults to see which ones we needed to change.
"We know changes like this are hard for the disabled people, families and staff involved, and it’s not something we do without a great deal of consideration.
"We will do our best to do it sensitively and respectfully, supporting everyone affected to understand what the changes mean and what choices are available to them.
"We want to work with the relevant authorities to help ensure that those people’s needs can be properly met elsewhere."
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