Elderly in turmoil

MORE than 30 elderly people, some with dementia, have just weeks to find somewhere to live now that a Huntingdon care home is to close. Questions have been raised as to why the 32 residents and their families were given the minimum notice to quit – 60 day

MORE than 30 elderly people, some with dementia, have just weeks to find somewhere to live now that a Huntingdon care home is to close.

Questions have been raised as to why the 32 residents and their families were given the minimum notice to quit - 60 days - when the decision on the planning application to rebuild the home was given nearly eight months ago in January.

There is anger that the families of old people admitted to the home as recently as September were not told that Hunters Down, on the corner of Hartford Road and American Lane, would close within a year.

The plan by owners, Excel Care, is to demolish the 1960s building and rebuild a bigger care home for the elderly on the same site. They have said the scheme will take two years.


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Last September Joy Atraghji, moved her 86-year-old mother, Mary Miller (both pictured), who has dementia, to Hunters Down after medics told her she could no longer be cared for at home.

Mrs Atraghji said: "There was no mention when my mum went into Hunters Down that it would close. We are paying £500 a week and we get two months' notice.

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"Mum was being looked after in her own home with five carers - and I visited her three times a day - but she was admitted to hospital with dehydration and after that I wasn't allowed to look after her at home. I was told she needed constant monitoring.

"I was so happy to find her a place so near where I live, in Desborough Road. The care there is fantastic. I can see mum every day and take her home for Sunday lunch. She has forgotten everything but she knows me. She knows I am somebody she loves."

She added: "The move will be very traumatic for her. I am worried that she will become ill and die."

Mrs Atraghji said staff at the home were also given notice the same day that she was.

"They deserve better. Now all the elderly people and all the staff will be looking for places and jobs at the same time."

Mrs Atraghji received a letter dated July 16 inviting her to a consultation meeting four days later at Hunters Down.

"There was a lady sitting next to me in a wheelchair who asked me what she could do. She said she was scared. I told her that there were people there who would find her a good home and good care. She said that she had no one, her daughter had died and that she was petrified. People should not be treated like this."

Councillor Mike Simpson, deputy leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, said in the original planning application submitted in September 2004, the company proposed to redevelop the site in two phases so that the elderly people could remain on site.

Cllr Simpson told The Hunts Post: "Somebody has changed their mind. The decision on the (current) application was made on January 18 so they must have known then. Why did they give only the required minimum notice of 60 days?"

Bill Scott, spokesman for Excelcare, said it had been decided that it would be too distressing for residents to have the home demolished around them.

He said: "The complaints have been taken on board. We have offered families one-to-one meetings. The local authority and the primary care trust are satisfied that what we are doing is in the interests of elderly people."

Sharron Cozens, county lead for adult services at Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust said: "Excelcare has made us aware of the situation. We are working very closely with them, Cambridgeshire County Council, individual residents, their families and carers to find the best possible solutions for their future care.

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