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‘I’m 85 and homeless’: Residents and staff in tears as care home closes

Written by on 23/10/2020

A South Yorkshire care home has been the latest to fall victim to the care crisis, leaving residents and staff heartbroken and in tears.

Newfield Nursing Home in Sheffield, which begged the government for help earlier this year, has closed.

Sixty residents have been forced to relocate and 38 nurses and carers are facing redundancy or redeployment following the “devastating” news.

Nicola Richards, the director of Palms Row Health Care, which ran Newfield Nursing Home, told the Mirror : “We are heartbroken to have to close a good home.

“I have warned the government of this for over a decade. If nothing changes more homes will close across the country. Once again, I am telling the government our elderly deserve better. “

In April Newfield nurse Laura Hibberd begged the government for help on the front page of the Daily Mirror.

She said they felt abandoned after coronavirus “ripped” through the home with a heartbreaking 25 people living there and at its two sister homes in the city died.

This week she told us: “It’s been an incredibly tough year for us all, seeing the home close was especially sad.

“We have worked together for years. I’m happy to be caring for residents in Westbourne House care home with familiar faces, however I do worry for the future of the sector.”

Residents and staff were left in tears when they were told Newfield Nursing Home was to close.

Their last resident Shirley Scott said: “I’m 85 and homeless aren’t I?”

Mrs Scott’s husband Gordon died in December and she said of the closure: “It’s upsetting. Everyone has been crying… because we’re like family.”

She recovered from Covid-19 in March and has Parkinson’s disease.

Now she is settling into her new home and said: “They’ve done me proud with my room. I’ve got a lovely room. ”

Anne Clark, who has been a senior carer at Newfield since 2009, said the residents are “like our family”.

“When Covid got into the home, I think it destroyed it. It was absolutely awful. I can’t describe how frightened everybody was,” she said.

“You didn’t know if you were going to get it yourself, if you’re going to take it home to your family, if we’re going to give it to other residents.”

She said of the moment they were told the home was closing: “Nobody could speak. Everybody was shocked. I was just devastated like everybody else.”

Former Newfield worker Kayleigh Jupp, 27, of Chesterfield, said she had to make the painful decision to leave Newfields five weeks ago for a new job in a dementia home.

She showed the devotion of staff when she was pictured dancing with resident Jack Dodsley, 79, in April.

Kayleigh said: “There were only two left in the end at Newfield, they got sent home or moved on to other places. It’s not fair for someone of 87 to have to move. It broke my heart.

“It was so sad to leave. I thought I was going to be there until I retired.”

Kayleigh added: “The government needs to work out a plan so care homes are supported a lot better. For decades support has never been there for care homes and community care. And they need to pay carers more.

Jack, 79, of Sheffield, is living back in his own house after recovering from an illness. He said: “It’s shocking. It was a good home. Nurses were very attentive. I could not fault it.

“I had coronavirus when I was in there but didn’t know I had it. The government need to get their priorities straight.”

A total of 275 UK care homes closed down between January and the start of August – more than the number for the whole of last year, according to healthcare analysts LaingBuisson.

MPs from the Health and Social Care Committee in a report described the care system as “unfair, confusing, demeaning, and frightening”.

They are calling for £7 billion additional funding per year by 2023/24.

They said the money is needed to stop providers withdrawing services to council-funded clients and focusing exclusively on the self-pay market.

The report warned: “An immediate funding increase is needed to avoid the risk of market collapse.”

Nicola Richards said the closure of Newfield is a “stark reminder of the mess that social care is in”.

“It’s incredibly sad for me, for my teams, for families and residents. This is the worst thing I’ve ever been through in my life,”she said.

Ms Richards, who says costs have spiralled because of Covid, says more than 90 per cent of residents received funding from the local authority or through the NHS.

And she said the amount that local authorities pay for nursing care beds also varies from county to county.

Sheffield pays £647 per person per week while 20 miles west in Derbyshire, the council there pays £783.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are doing everything we can to support the sector during the pandemic including through regular testing of staff and residents, free PPE and over £1.1 billion through the Infection Control Fund.

“We know there is a need for a long-term solution for social care and are looking at a range of proposals.”