Care home cash fears

Audrey Turnbull (left) and Geraldine Plunkett are appealing for funding to help the Donna Claire House in Seaburn, which is facing a cash crisis.
Audrey Turnbull (left) and Geraldine Plunkett are appealing for funding to help the Donna Claire House in Seaburn, which is facing a cash crisis.
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CARE home bosses have been left appalled at documentary footage which showed vulnerable patients being taunted and abused.

Geraldine Plunkett, co-founder of Donna Claire Venture Care Home, in Seaburn, said she was “disgusted” at scenes from the Panorama programme, which showed people with mental health problems being physically abused by staff at Winterbourne View, in Bristol.

Staff were seen pushing over, pinning down and teasing clearly distressed patients at the private hospital.

Ms Plunkett said: “It was just devastating to see that.

“I can’t imagine what the parents of those people are going through right now.”

Fellow co-founder Audrey Turnbull l added: “You wouldn’t do that to an animal. You’d think we were back in years, seeing treatment like that.”

Police in Bristol have since arrested four people.

The owners of Winterbourne View, Castlebeck, have apologised and suspended 13 employees.

Ms Plunkett and Ms Turnbull feel that smaller, more homely care homes are needed for people with disabilities.

“They need to be personal places,” added Ms Plunkett. “These people don’t have a lot in their lives and there was just no respect for them.”

As with many homes, Donna Claire faces another fight to stay open as fears for future funding grow.

Its founders say they are desperate for a benefactor to come forward.

The care home provides respite care for families by looking after a loved-one for a week or a few days.

Earlier this year, Donna Claire said that because of cuts, it was near crisis point.

The Government said at the time it would give an extra £20million for respite care, but local authorities are faced with huge cuts to their budgets.

Donna Claire was saved from closure in 2009, after an Echo-backed campaign raised enough to keep the centre going.

Ms Plunkett said: “Funding is, and always will be, a major problem. It’s something we have always struggled with.

“The service we provide is intensive, and people still don’t understand the time and money it takes to care for them (patients) for 24 hours.”

Donna Claire will run fund-raising stalls at Forces Day celebrations, on Saturday, June 25, and the at the Sunderland Air Show which takes place next month.

Ms Plunkett and Ms Turnbull added that they are happy to show any visitors around the home if they wish.

Ms Turnbull added: “We are completely dedicated but we can’t do it without money.”

Staff and residents at Burn Promenade sheltered housing are already helping to generate money for Donna Claire.

Scheme officer Sue Dollimore said: “We decided to hold a raffle recently during one of our regular coffee mornings and within an hour had raised over £40, thanks to the generosity of our residents and staff.

“Although we’ve only raised a small amount of money so far, we are planning to continue fund-raising for the hospice and donate more money in the future.”