Families’ fury as Wombourne care home to be sold off
A charity-run care home for severely disabled people in Wolverhampton has been put up for sale, a move critics fear could endanger the well-being of the people who live there.
Leonard Cheshire Foundation, the charity that runs St Anthony’s in Wombourne, has confirmed that it is one of the 17 care homes across the country that has been placed on the market.
Charity chiefs say they are aiming to find a high quality care provider to ensure the well-being of all residents affected by the sales, so that no one will have to find a new home.
But concerned family members of those living at St Anthony’s claim the charity is ‘washing their hands’ of the people who rely on its care.
Jill Buzzard’s brother Clive Sayer is 63 years old and has lived at the Wombourne home for 21 years. He suffers from cerebral palsy, and 56-year-old Jill, his only sibling, visits regularly.
She said: “This is terrible news and a massive disappointment to those connected with the home. What if a big profit-making company comes in and sells it for the land? My brother loves living there and the staff are fantastic.”
Leonard Cheshire plans to sell the 17 homes as staff work more to address the unmet need of support available to disabled people who want to live independently, but Jill has argued that doing this should not mean having to sell off current care homes.
She added: “I applaud the fact Leonard Cheshire wants to set up care in the community services, but it is not possible or practical for many disabled people to live in the community.
“Leonard Cheshire are wealthy enough to keep providing a service in their residential homes and embark on community care. Why not do both? Why sell their existing and future residential service users? Where is their continuity of care? They are basically washing their hands of customers they claim to be market leaders in serving.”
Julie Hamling, a parent of a resident at St Anthony’s, said she was ‘disgusted’ by the charity’s decision to sell. She said: “Why has the charity decided that it no longer wants to provide services to those within the homes they have been running efficiently and well for many years but would prefer to support others, as yet unidentified, in new ventures?
“Any new care provider is more likely to be a business where profit making will be its main aim. All the relatives and friends along with residents are deeply concerned with the implications of any such sale and are pleading with the trustees of the charity to think again.”
In a statement, Leonard Cheshire said 137 homes would still remain following the sale. A spokesman for the organisation said: “In 2018 all charities must continue to challenge themselves to make a bigger difference. Leonard Cheshire has set out to reach significantly more disabled people. To make this ambition a reality we have had to make some difficult decisions about some of our services.
“A small minority of our properties are not in the right places with easy access to community amenities and with scope to grow. Other providers are better placed to make long-term investment in these services.
“There is huge unmet need across the country in the support that is available to enable disabled people to live as independently as possible, whatever their ability. Leonard Cheshire must be at the heart of building a more inclusive society.
“We know this is a difficult and worrying time for many, including the residents and their families, and we will be supporting them throughout this process.”