Future of Royston dementia-specialist Flexicare scheme up in the air

PUBLISHED: 08:32 24 March 2016

Archant

The future of services offered by a Royston extra care housing provider which specialises in looking after people with dementia is up in the air, causing concern among supporters, friends and family of those who live there.

The scheme at Mary Barfield House in Rochester Way has been plagued by low occupancy – only eight of the 17 beds are in use – with owners Genesis Housing Association, incurring losses in excess of £70,000 in the current financial year.

Work is under way to explore the best way forward, but new admissions have been on hold for 18 months – mainly due to concerns about the standard of care of the previous provider Carewatch.

These concerns, according to an adult care and health cabinet panel report, included lack of staff cover and management support and case recording errors.

Low occupancy is a particular concern with regard to people with dementia, affecting their quality of life because they have less opportunity to socialise and make friends.

Herts County Council terminated Carewatch’s contract with a new provider, Care By Us, taking over the reins last month.

Councillor Colette Wyatt-Lowe, responsible for adult care and health at County Hall, says there has already been ‘some positive feedback from residents and their families about the quality of support’ since the takeover.

Speaking of the progress during this ‘unsettling time’, she said: “Any changes to the way care is provided will be discussed in detail with residents and/or their families and will be based on an assessment of their needs now, and whether those needs can be met safely.

“We are in positive discussion with Genesis Housing Association and Care By Us about the future of the scheme and we will continue to work closely with them.

“No final decision has been taken, but we are looking at ways of strengthening the home’s local reputation and widening the care offer to meet the needs of more people who may benefit from moving there.”

The news has prompted concerns about what would happen to the eight people currently living there, if the use of the home were to change.

Councillor Wyatt-Lowe added: “If any residents do need to be moved in order to better meet their care needs, we will work closely with them and their families to find the most suitable alternative accommodation.”

Marian Brewer’s father-in-law spent four years at the home, but a social worker told the family that after a period in hospital he could not return due to his escalating needs – something his relatives disputed.

He died within weeks of being moved to a different home.

Marian said: “It was dreadful because he was well cared for and happy there – when he arrived we were told it was a home for life.

“I don’t like the way it was handled, My sister-in-law said it was like he had been evicted. It scares me that this could be us in the future.”

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