Families distraught after Sheffield care home 'risks lives' of elderly residents
A Sheffield nursing home has been accused of putting 22 elderly and vulnerable people at risk - including two 90-year-old women with dementia - by moving them across the city to a care home with a confirmed case of coronavirus.
Worried family members have accused senior managers of lying about the reasons for moving the residents, some of whom have been there for a decade, and said they suspect Newfield Nursing Home in Heeley might be receiving financial incentives to free up beds for NHS patients leaving hospital.
Palms Row, which runs Newfield Nursing Home and Westbourne House Nursing Home, where the residents were moved to, have told the families it was not a financial decision, however, there has been no adequate reason given, the families said.
Families were initially told the new home had a better layout, then told that their family members would be safer in the new home.
However, there is no evidence to suggest that, families say, as a case of coronavirus was confirmed when the residents arrived at Westbourne House.
Robert Linley, whose 90-year-old mother was moved, said: “There are no safety or medical reasons for this move, it is entirely commercial and to put 22 residents at risk under the current situation is callous and shameful.”
Ellen Clara Linley, who turned 90 on Thursday, has dementia and her family were not keen to move her under any circumstances as dementia patients are advised to stay in familiar surroundings with a stable routine.
Her son said the family reluctantly agreed to allow her to move after being reassured that all possible precautions were being taken and without being told there was a coronavirus case at the new home.
Upon arrival at Westbourne House, the family said they found that the equipment in the room was not adequate for Ms Linley and the home did not have her records and did not know she cannot walk.
Mr Linley said his sister who accompanied her mother to the new home was left “distraught” after being told she could not enter because there was a confirmed case of coronavirus in the building.
Despite having left only 30 minutes earlier, she was told it was “too high risk” to return to Newfield.
He said: “We had relied on the information given to us by Palms Row to enable us to make a very difficult decision, had we known they had the virus at Westbourne House of course Mum would have stayed where she was.
“Had we had the slightest hint that this intolerable situation may happen 14 days ago we would have moved heaven and earth to move mum into another home, in hindsight anywhere. Not the 90th birthday we had in mind.
“In the case of Palms Row, they are using the extraordinary times we are in to mask a cynical commercial enterprise and should be brought to account,” he added.
Margaret Bucksun, whose mother Alison Gill, 89, also has dementia and has also been moved said she had not been able to visit the Westbourne House because she has been forced to self-isolate.
“I’m really disappointed with the response. Our concerns have not been taken seriously.
“Is she going to survive? I honestly don’t know.”
She had not been told her mother was being moved and only found out when she called the home to see if she could send a Mother’s Day gift.
“The management hadn’t told the residents they were moving either. They weren’t talking to them. I had to ask for someone to speak to my mum and she got very upset.”
This week the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock announced a £2.9bn pot of emergency funds for the NHS and local councils to free up beds. Local authorities are receiving £1.6bn to boost the social care workforce.
Louise Haigh, Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley, is concerned that this has provided an incentive for nursing homes to move residents against their best interests.
She said: “Our creaking social care system is about to be exposed as thoroughly inadequate in the face of enormous demand.
“The challenge facing the NHS and care system will be enormous but rather than step up to that challenge, the government has simply removed the responsibility on local authorities to provide care.
“This inevitably means that unscrupulous providers will see financial incentive in looking after NHS patients rather than their lower-funded counterparts in the care system. I’ve already been contacted by constituents who are concerned this is happening in care homes and I fear this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg yet.”
Palms Row did not respond to requests for comment.