In Hindhead, Surrey, United Kingdom, The Guardian
- A care home for retired priests is being closed by the Church of England because it cannot recruit and retain staff, leaving 30 residents, many of whom have dementia, in need of new accommodation.
The C of E pensions board announced that Manormead care home near Hindhead, Surrey, will shut at the end of March, describing it as a “heartbreaking decision”.
Its two high-care wings, which include 14 beds for people with dementia, require round-the-clock staffing. Manormead has been forced to use agency workers for about a third of the posts at the home after finding it difficult to attract staff, particularly to work unsocial hours.
Jonathan Spencer, the board’s chairman, said: “After more than 60 years of the pensions board providing care and nursing at Manormead, this has been a heartbreaking decision to take.
“However, the safety and wellbeing of our residents is paramount, and we will not compromise that in any way.
“Over the past couple of years, we have found it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain nursing and care staff, and we are now reaching the point where we will be unable to staff the home in a way that meets the needs of our patients.”
The reliance on agency staff was “not sustainable in the longer term”, Spencer said.
According to a C of E source, as well as the considerable cost of using agency workers, there were concerns about turnover, consistency of care, and levels of safety and standards.
About 40 members of staff are expected to lose their jobs when the home closes.
Each resident of the high-care wings has been assigned an advocate to help find alternative accommodation.
“We know this is a very difficult time for our residents and their families,” Spencer said. “We will work very closely with each of them over the coming months as they choose where to move to.
“We will then do all we can to ensure that their moves to new homes are as smooth as possible.”
The staffing difficulties at Manormead care home were “a genuine issue”, [the son of one dementia-stricken resident] said. “But to provide good care we have to pay people a reasonable income.
“People can’t live on salaries that care homes pay. This is a real issue and the reason why care provision in the UK is at breaking point.”
The fees at the home are approximately £1,000 a week, which is in line with the area average, according to the C of E. For many residents, fees are met by a combination of funds, including their pensions and savings, local authority contributions and top-ups directly from the C of E.
The pensions board’s charitable funds also subsidise the running of Manormead and the other care homes it operates.
The C of E said it had no immediate plans to sell the care home site, which will be “mothballed” after closure.