Care home’s closure is a worrying sign

Izzy Carpenter comments on families scrambling to find places for their loved ones

Aston Grange Care Home, Forest Road (credit Google Street View)

Aston Grange Care Home, Forest Road (credit Google Street View)

Family members of residents at Aston Grange Care Home in Forest Road were shocked to receive a letter announcing the closure of the home in October.

Relatives have since been scrambling to find places to move their loved ones before the anticipated closure on 15th December.

Legally the home, a general care and dementia specialist facility, cannot close before residents have been successfully accommodated elsewhere. Nonetheless, families have been told that staff are set to be made redundant before Christmas.

Aston Grange had been in ‘special measures’ following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last year which rated it inadequate. The result, recorded on the CQC’s website in April, came as a surprise; for many years the home had been meeting required standards.

The Walthamstow care home’s poor rating triggered an embargo on funding from Waltham Forest Council which prevented Aston Grange admitting new residents. There is currently a lack of vacancies at Waltham Forest care homes that have good ratings.

Aston Grange had a follow-up inspection over five days in late September, but as of the posting of the letter to families a month later, had not been able to get advice or feedback from the inspection, and thus financially had to make the decision to close.

The care home is promising to help families and has advised them: “We are working closely with Waltham Forest Council as the host borough and all placing local authorities, and we will both do all we can to support you in finding an alternate placement.”

The home and the council are determined to find a placement for up to 45 residents, while each family is of course focused on one. I know of an affected family that has only been able to find one placement offer from the list, and feel it is not appropriate to their mum’s needs because they are worried it will not accommodate her increasing support requirements. Her prognosis suggests her level of care will increase and another move in the near future will prove necessary. They are also concerned this will be disorientating and upsetting for her. Practically it is difficult too; it will take more than two hours by bus to visit her at the facility in Redbridge. However, their mum’s needs are substantial and home-based care is simply not an option.

I’m fairly convinced underfunding and unrealistic demands are contributing to poor performance at care homes, and have contributed to Aston Grange’s closure. Being driven to a commercial standard but not compensated for it is a recipe for disaster for extremely vulnerable people and their families. Care homes are now unable to do what they are set-up to do, as economic aims overtake social and moral ones.