A Bermondsey woman fears her mother has lost her “forever home” as a specialist care home prepares to close this summer.
South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), which runs Ann Moss specialist care unit in Rotherhithe, wrote to relatives of residents at the home last week to notify them of its expected closure this August.
The trust said it had concluded the closure was “the right thing to do” in line with national guidance to place emphasis on “long-term community care and short stays in inpatient and specialist care”.
The home, in Ann Moss Way, provides specialist care for adults over 65 who have mental health conditions such as dementia.
Caroline O’Rourke, 43, whose 63-year-old mother Josephine suffers from frontotemporal dementia, said she had made huge improvements since moving to the unit last summer and that the closure could set her back.
“I’ve finally got her in here and I thought it was going to be her forever home; she was really happy and really settled,” said Caroline, who lives in Bermondsey.
“Just last week she remembered how to say my name – she is really coming on and now I feel like it’s going to be detrimental to her – and not just her, all the other people too.
“The people in there are amazing; it’s clean, she’s always got someone to talk to and they take her out.”
Caroline said she was told her mother could be moved to Streatham and that it was too far for her to travel for visits.
“I haven’t slept properly since I got the news – I’m not going to be able to get all the way to Streatham and back,” she said.
“Physically and mentally, are these people able to be moved?”
Another woman whose husband has dementia and is cared for at the home branded the decision to close it as “disgusting”. “The decision came out of the blue and it’s disgusting – there was no warning,” said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous.
“My husband is really vulnerable; he has dementia and his swallowing reflex is impaired so he has to be fed, he has to be turned every couple of hours to avoid bed sores, he is incontinent, and he suffers epileptic fits.
“He needs proper nursing care – he went in there because I could no longer cope with his care… and the care he receives there is second to none.”
There are sixteen rooms at the home, with five currently empty.
South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group said in a joint statement: “South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have been working together to look at the best way to continue to provide high quality care for older people with mental health needs.
“Working alongside the trust and other CCGs this has resulted in plans to make changes to improve those services including a proposal to close the Ann Moss unit.
“There are a number of things that we have taken account of when doing this work, in particular we are aware that we have decreasing demand for specialist care units that are not attached to a major hospital site, that levels of occupancy of the Ann Moss unit are low, and that there are suitable alternative placements for the current residents.
“We understand that any proposed changes to specific services affecting patients will cause anxiety and we have worked over the last twelve months and more, to ensure that we can make safe provision for the patients, currently housed in Ann Moss Specialist Care Unit.
“The proposal is that Ann Moss will close in late summer 2018.
“The trust and CCG are working closely together to communicate with and support residents, their families or representatives, and staff throughout the period of transition.
“Families will have choice of where their relative should continue to receive care and we are doing all we can to make arrangements for patients to move closer to their families if that is their wish.
“Patients who continue to need a higher level of specialist care will have the option of transferring to the Greenvale Unit, near Streatham Common in Lambeth.
“This is a purpose-built facility for older adults with dementia and mental health problems, and provides an equally-high level of care to Ann Moss.”