Residents move out as Sunderland care home prepares to close

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ELDERLY residents are being moved out of their care home ahead of its closure on Tuesday.

St Martha’s in Thornhill Park, Ashbrooke, said it took the decision to shut after only 13 people filled its 24 places, leaving it no long a financially viable concern.

The care of people is very much at the heart of this decision. The families of the ladies and gentlemen have been keeping me going, they have brought in flowers and cards, they have been wonderful.

Gwen Swalwell, director, St Martha’s care home

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said it raised concerns after its most recent inspection, including issues over how it dealt with residents’ medicines to requirements regarding staff and told bosses it must improve following the visit at the start of the year.

Bosses say their decision to close was not based on the inspection, which they say also raised many positive points.

More than a dozen staff are waiting to find out what will happen to their jobs, but remain employed by the home.

Its owner also runs St Martha’s At Home – which looks after people in their own houses – which is said to be going strong and will not be affected by the home’s closure on Tuesday.

The rise in the number of people who prefer to stay in their own homes for longer is also said to be behind the fall in demand for the business.

Sunderland City Council’s social services have been working with staff and the families of those who have been cared for by St Martha’s as they move into homes elsewhere.

The home’s director Gwen Swalwell, who has run St Martha’s for 31 years, said the closure was being handled “sensitively” and thanked social service and the residents’ loved ones for their support.

She said: “The care of people is very much at the heart of this decision. The families of the ladies and gentlemen have been keeping me going, they have brought in flowers and cards, they have been wonderful.

“The staff are absolutely devastated. They have been a brilliant team.”

She said the business had not gone bankrupt.

Debbie Westhead, deputy chief inspector of adult social care with the CQC, said: “Breaches of regulations relating to medicines management, quality assurance and requirements relating to workers were found and the provider was fully briefed of the shortfalls.

“We understand that people living at the service are in the process of being transferred to other local homes and are being supported by the local authority in what must be a difficult time.”

Councillor Graeme Miller, cabinet member for health, housing and adult services with the council, said: “Everyone is working very hard to keep friends together at this difficult time.