FAMILIES are planning to meet this evening to decide their next move after a court decision paved the way for a Deeside nursing home to be shut.
But a son is threatening to sue health and social service officials for ‘manslaughter’ if his 83-year-old mother dies after being forced to leave her care home.
And other families of dementia and Alzheimer’s sufferers who live at Greencroft nursing home on Deeside claim their elderly and confused relatives will be put at risk if the home is forced to close.
On Friday the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) took the rare legal step of applying for the emergency cancellation of the home’s registration.
Lawyer for the home, Neil Grant, warned it would mean immediate closure of the facility with ambulances turning up at night to remove elderly residents with their belongings in black bin bags.
But after a morning of legal argument at Flintshire Magistrates Court CSSIW withdrew its application after Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Flintshire Council said they would cancel contracts for the 21 residents, allowing the home to close over a couple of weeks.
Mr Grant had dubbed as a ‘shambolic mess’ the application by the Wales care inspectorate, local health board and local council to close the Shotton home.
Lawyer for CSSIW, Adrian Perkins, had called for the home’s registration to be cancelled immediately for the protection of the 21 residents.
But Paul Sandiford, of Curzon Park, Chester, a health and safety officer with the Bank of America in Chester, said he would want the names of the people he could sue for manslaughter if his mother Patricia, who has dementia, died as the result of a move.
Last September Greencroft resident, 88-year-old Beatrice Morgan, died in Whiston Hospital burns unit on Merseyside after treatment for scald injuries she suffered in an accident at the private care home a month earlier.
Mr Sandiford claimed the authorities were using a ‘sad accident’ to show in any future court case they were taking action by getting the home closed.
Relatives who packed the court all praised the home and the ‘loving care’ provided for their relatives and said new owner Tim Ogunleye and new manager Mary Barker had done a wonderful job in improving the facility.
Mr Perkins dismissed claims that the application was ‘shambolic’ and “not fair”. He said: “CSSIW want to make it clear its application has been made in good faith to protect residents. We refute in the strongest terms the criticism by Mr Grant.
“Flintshire and Betsi Cadwaladr board have processes which are independent of CSSIW as the statutory regulator. Since Flintshire and BC health board have indicated their decision to terminate their contracts for residents at Greencroft, and given the indication of their intent to closely monitor on a daily basis the care home, CSSIW does not anticipate the need to proceed with this application.”
Mr Perkins said despite repeated attempts by the authorities to secure improvements, real “risks” remained for the residents and CSSIW had considered the risks to residents of relocating against the risks of remaining in the home, and decided its closure was necessary. Details of the risks were not made public in court.
But Mr Grant said Flintshire had only one other home for patients with dementia and that was full. The new manager at Greencroft, Mary Barker, had made huge improvements since she started 30 days ago.
“I am bemused as to why we are here today bearing in mind Flintshire and the local health board a couple of weeks ago identified a new corrective action plan,” said Mr Grant. He also said as recently as last Monday an official had inspected the home and failed to raise a single concern with the manager.
Mr Grant said research showed death rates rose threefold among elderly, frail and dementia victims who were moved out of their homes. He said 20 families had produced letters of support for the home and he claimed the CSSIW accusations were ‘exaggerated and misleading’.
Home owner Timothy Ogunleye, who has seven other homes – one in Wales and six in England – said he was ‘disappointed’ with the outcome but did not want to comment at this stage.
District Judge Andrew Shaw said he was not clear ‘what was the precipitating event’ which had sparked the CSSIW’s initial request for an immediate cancellation of the home’s registration, but since the application was withdrawn it was no longer an issue for the court.
The residents will meet at Greencroft at 6pm to decide their next move.