Today “PH” posted this comment on this 28 March East Devon Watch post (the latest post on the story of Abbeyfield’s closure of the Shandford Care Home in Budleigh):
“Abbeyfield has not mentioned that they were introduced to Amica Care by MP Simon Jupp in February of this year. From my understanding, Abbeyfield would not engage with Amica at that point, which would have given more time to consult.
The question should be asked, how a huge charity supposedly committed to its residents, can be allowed to strip the life out of residential home in their care. If it’s not to make money, then why?
Not viable? I don’t think so!”
This act of care home closure would be a heart wrenching story at the best of times. Now, as we approach the height of the worst epidemic since 1918, it is unbearable. During lockdown, residents have no physical contact with their loved ones at their time of crisis.
The residents are being taken from their homes at a time when the Government has decreed that the vulnerable should not leave their homes. As part of overall epidemic decisions escalation, it is already planned that transfer to hospital from Care Homes may not be offered if it is not likely to benefit the resident and if palliative or conservative care within the home is deemed more appropriate. Moving residents inevitably increases their risk and the risk to others. Peter Kyle MP for Brighton (Hove) has just spoken about this in an interview on today’s BBC “World at One”. The context included some relatives in his constituency being pressured into to signing “do not resuscitate” notices.
The closure is based on Abbeyfield’s declared aim of “freeing up assets” as it changes its business model to concentrate on larger homes; and County Councillor Christine Channon’s handpicked adviser Chris Davis who claims that Shandford is no longer viable. Owl has received plausible arguments that shows that there are grounds to challenge the case for non-viability.
Shandford’s public room and gardens are particularly special (there is a chicken pen in the garden clearly visible to residents). It is accessible and has a bus-stop outside encouraging visiting. The town-centre location means that even wheelchair bound residents can easily get to town with their loved ones and enjoy a more fulfilling existence.
Knowing the numbers of residents at the time “Save our Shandford” was started in February and the fees charged it can be easily calculated that the home could expect an income of over £1M. Shandford is known to charge approximately 75% of some homes in Exmouth so there would be scope for modest fee increases if necessary. The property was bought by local subscription and there is no cost of equity, no cost of debt. Shandford is also named as a potential beneficiary in a recent legacy. It is clear from the support that “Save our Shandford” received that the local community would undertake fundraising as it has done in the past.
The house was built in the Edwardian period and has been extended and modernised as part of a continuous investment programme since its acquisition in 1958. From the outside it can be seen that the roof and main structure look to have been well maintained (Abbeyfield claim to have invested substantial sums since control was ceded to them in 2012). However, both Abbeyfield and Cllr Cannon’s advisers claim that the rooms are too small (it currently has a good CQC rating) and that major works are needed to the plumbing. Owl was interested to hear that at the public meeting called by Simon Jupp MP one resident’s relative, a builder, laughed at the three figure sums being quoted. In any event, given the CQC assessment, no major works are needed in the short term, allowing opportunities for fund raising. Those trying to save Shandford have been denied access to the viability report presented to Cllr Channon (confidential apparently).
Subsequent to Abbeyfield announcing closure last autumn and actions taken by Cllr Channon, it is clear that Abbeyfield has an obligation to return monies realised by any sale to the Town. This must relate to clauses in the Transfer Deed drawn up by the original local Trustees of the Shandford Community Interest Company and Abbeyfield. Those trying to save Shandford have been denied access to the transfer deed, even though a copy is believed to be held by Devon County Council. Once the site is sold there is no way the any assets released could possibly recreate Shandford and its setting within the Town
The local community, given time, has expressed the will and energy to re-create a local Community Interest Company to take over and run Shandford but has been denied access to essential information. A more feasible and quicker option is mentioned by “PH”. Amica Care expressed an interest and Simon Jupp MP has tried to broker negotiations. Regrettably it seems minds have been made up and Abbeyfield won’t negotiate.
We are living through times when decisions made by “the authorities” are being shown, by fast moving events, to be all too often threadbare. Seldom do management decisions come to haunt the decision maker quite so soon. You are supposed to be able to “make your mark”, move on and not be called to account.