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Relatives shocked and angry as troubled Leeds welfare home closes nursing wing

    THIRTY physically frail residents in the Silver Lodge complex nursing wing at crisis-ridden Leeds care home Donisthorpe Hall face an uncertain future after the announcement that the wing will close at the end of February.

    Donisthorpe chiefs attribute the decision to a national nursing shortage. Relatives of residents were informed in a letter dated January 24. After it was sent out, Andrew Brown resigned as Donisthorpe’s chairman of trustees.

    Relatives expressed shock and anger at a meeting with Donisthorpe leaders on Tuesday.

    Trustee Ashley Cohen told them: “We require 16 full-time nurses to support the nursing care. With Silver Lodge being a predominantly nursing environment, we became reliant on agency nurses, which is a nationwide problem.

    “It was costing some £80,000 per month in agency costs, which is just under £1 million per year. However, this cost did not enter our decision to close down Silver Lodge. This was only about the safety of the residents and the impossible task of recruiting nurses.”

    He acknowledged the stress and upset the decision had caused.

    Information on vacancies at other care homes was provided to relatives, one of whom complained that it was unfeeling to move a woman of 100.

    Others feared their loved ones would be relocated to homes on the outskirts of Leeds, making visiting more difficult.

    Naomi Ross pointed out: “When my brother came into this home, our main concern was that he was going to reside in a Jewish environment, which is important to our family. And suddenly it’s all over.”

    Wendy Schofield — whose 90-year-old mother has been a resident for two years — told the JC: “My mum has friends here. To move her into a strange setting with people who are strangers is cruel, very cruel.”

    Speaking before the meeting, Mr Cohen insisted that life would continue as normal for Donisthorpe’s other 73 residents.

    “Although one unit is being closed, it is important to reassure people that Donisthorpe Hall will not be closing down.”

    At the end of October, welfare watchdog the Care Quality Commission gave Donisthorpe an overall rating of inadequate and placed it in special measures. It warned that without sufficient improvement in six months, the CQC would “begin the process of preventing the provider from operating the service”.

    Senior management are confident Donisthorpe will meet the CQC requirements, other than the issue of reliance on agency staff.

    The new trustees’ chair is Dr Robert Ross, a long-time supporter of the home.

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