ELDERLY residents were celebrating today after a charity stepped in to save their historic care centre.
North East-based St Cuthberts Care has completed a deal which will see it take over the former Little Sisters of the Poor, in High Barnes, Sunderland.
Earlier this year, the 130-year-old centre announced it was closing after it emerged there were no longer enough nuns in the city to continue their good work.
But St Cuthberts Care, which helps disadvantaged, disabled and elderly people across the region, has now bought the 46-bed Holy Cross site, ensuring the “security and peace of mind” of residents and safeguarding almost 70 jobs.
Austin Donohoe, chief executive of the charity, said: “This is a momentous day for both St Cuthberts Care and Holy Cross.
“We are deeply privileged to take over the work of the sisters.
“Over the past 130 years, they have devoted themselves completely to God and have acted selflessly in supporting the poor and the elderly.
“Their dedication is nothing less than inspirational.”
The Catholic charity now hopes to maximise the number of registered beds available, secure full occupancy and apply for nursing registration.
Plans are also being drawn up to develop a specialist wing for dementia care.
“This is the greatest challenge the charity has ever faced,” said Mr Donohoe.
“Our hope is that Holy Cross can flourish and become, once again, a significant part of the community.”
Residents spoke of their relief that they would be able to stay at the centre in Ettrick Grove.
Great-grandmother Olive Thompson, 93, from Sunderland, said: “I’m really happy to be staying here. It is an amazing place.
“The staff are fantastic and I’ve got a lot of friends here.”
Retired newsagent Jennie Brown, 91, from Whitburn, said she was close to confirming a move to another care home when she was given the good news that Holy Cross would stay open.
“I’ve always been happy here,” she said. “I’ll miss the sisters when they leave, but I didn’t want to move to another centre. I’ve got friends here and I’m settled. I never wanted to move.”
Sister Catherine McGuire, who managed Little Sisters of the Poor, said she was pleased that the centre would continue operating.
“It’s nice that the centre will be staying open, for both the residents and the staff,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed my time here. It is a really homely community, very close knit.
“We’re like one big, happy family.”
Mother Provincial added: “We are so sad to be leaving our dedicated staff and the residents at Holy Cross.
“The numbers in our order are declining and we are all reaching an age now where we can no longer do as much as we would like, so this decision has been difficult to make but regretfully it has been the right one.”
“We are delighted to know that St Cuthberts Care will be continuing our work in caring for the sick and the elderly in this beautiful place in Sunderland.”
The centre is now taking referrals. For more information, call 567 0862 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.