‘Unacceptable’ care home to close its doors

Alexander Court Care Home.
Alexander Court Care Home.

A disgraced care home which was stripped of its nursing powers last month, has now told elderly residents they will have to find new homes as it faces final closure.

Family members celebrating a woman’s 100th birthday on Tuesday at Alexander Court care home in Harrogate were told to look for alternative accommodation for Olive Laing, hours after she had received her telegram from the Queen.

Olive’s daughter, Pamela Hoyle, said: “It was a bit of a shock, we have just been left hanging and we have got to find somewhere else for her to live now. I want to find somewhere nearby – she won’t like it if she has to move away.”

Care provider Esteem Care Ltd announced it was shutting down the Cornwall Road facility, six weeks after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) revoked its nursing licence, forcing 12 vulnerable residents receiving nursing care to be moved.

Director Himat Gami said it was uneconomical to run the care home with so few residents. The 28 elderly people currently living at Alexander Court have been told to find somewhere else to live.

The 85-bed home, formerly known as Waldern Heath, was first criticised by the CQC in a report published in June which found it failed to ensure people’s safety and welfare.

A damning report from a follow-up inspection in July was published yesterday.

Inspectors found that some staff had a “limited command of the English language” and “failed to recognise urgent situations”, including incidents where ambulances needed to be called.

Debbie Westhead, CQC’s deputy chief inspector of adult social care in the North, said: “Esteem Care Ltd is failing to meet the needs of the people living at Alexander Court and it is unacceptable that the provider has allowed the service at to deteriorate in this way.

“We have used our urgent powers to prevent the home from providing nursing care services. All residents requiring nursing care were safely relocated to alternative

placements earlier this month, and we have since been informed by the provider of their intention to close the home.”

“The safety and welfare of residents is our utmost priority and we are in direct contact with North Yorkshire County Council regarding the action they are taking to ensure that remaining residents are provided with suitable alternative accommodation. In the meantime CQC will continue to

to monitor the provider in line with our regulatory responsibilities.”

North Yorkshire County Council raised concerns about serious incidents including a person who was not supposed to leave the building getting out and the unexpected death of a resident.

William O’Connell, 76, choked to death at the care home on July 6. An investigation into his death is ongoing.

CQC inspectors witnessed four people struggling with food at the care home in the weeks after Mr O’Connell’s death, despite a care action plan being in place.

Mr O’Connell’s step daughter, Ann Gregory, said she was relieved to hear the care home was closing down.

She said: “I am pleased to know it will close, it has been advertising itself as an outstanding care home which is just outrageous.

“My heart goes out to the families of those residents, it isn’t easy to find a care home, it is very difficult to find accommodation and they will struggle to find somewhere in Harrogate.”

Families have complained that their relatives were moved too far from Harrogate when the nursing care aspect of the home was closed in July.

Liz Campbell’s father was moved to Ripon, she said: “My father was in Alexander Court until they suddenly informed my mother at 4pm one afternoon whilst she was visiting him that he had to be out by midday the next day.

“My 85-year-old mother visits every day so has to get a bus to Ripon and back and a taxi because there isn’t a bus to take her back to the station. She shouldn’t be doing this at her age.”

Patricia Richie visited her ex-husband James Ackroyd, who suffers from dementia, every week when he was at Alexander Court but has only managed to make the journey to his new care home in Selby once.

“I had to get a friend to drive me there, it is a 50-minute journey and I am not a confident driver. It is just too far and it all happened in such a rush. My son went into Alexander Court only to be told he had been moved and they didn’t know where.”

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire County Council said: “A situation such as this inevitably causes concern. However residents and their families can be assured that the county council will do everything necessary to make the transition as easy and straightforward as possible. Care teams, working across social care and the NHS, are highly experienced and will ensure that residents are able to move to new homes with the minimum of disruption.”

A spokesperson for Esteem Care Ltd said: “Esteem Care Ltd is working closely with North Yorkshire County Council to facilitate the smooth transfer of all of our residents.

“The welfare and safety of our residents is our most important concern. Our staff team have served Alexander Court with the utmost loyalty and will continue to care for our residents during this transitional period.

“The home will continue to operate as normal until the very last resident leaves.”