Royston care home residents evacuated in flooding two weeks ago yet to return

PUBLISHED: 16:51 26 May 2017 | UPDATED: 17:09 26 May 2017

Mary Barfield House. Picture: Google Street View

Mary Barfield House. Picture: Google Street View

Google Street View

Residents who were evacuated from a Royston care home due to flooding more than two weeks ago are yet to return – with a carer among those to lay the blame at the door of the housing association responsible for the building.

The ceiling at Mary Barfield House began leaking on May 10, with all the elderly and disabled residents evacuated by staff for their own safety.

Firefighters were called to the home in Rochester Way just after 10am that morning, with a pump was used to remove the water. An electrician was also called.

All residents were transferred to different care homes and premises, in areas including Letchworth, Ware, and Bishop’s Stortford – with one man in his 80s first taken to a hotel and now staying in a B&B.

The building is managed by Genesis Housing Association, which manages thousands of homes in London and the south east.

Speaking about the impact, a carer – who works for Care By Us and wished to remain anonymous – told the Crow: “It’s nothing to do with the care here, it is fantastic and the staff do a great job. It’s whenever you need to talk to Genesis that you get nowhere.

“The ceiling was leaking and we had to evacuate the clients by putting them in taxis. I thought ‘what is going on here?’. We were so worried for their safety.

“Genesis is the worst company to deal with. We have been to work and they can’t even tell us when we will be able to provide the care for our clients, who we work hard to care for, or when the building will be open again.

“Caring is the most rewarding job. Some have dementia so it’s a very challenging role, but it is rewarding when you get a smile it’s precious, or when you get a client to eat when they wouldn’t otherwise, you’re helping keep them alive.

“We are a very small team of about 12, but we provide whatever care the person needs.

“We’re worried we won’t see our clients again because of how the upheaval could affect them, and it’s just going on and on.

“We are hearing that it has set the clients back, which will make our jobs more difficult. We are worried about them, and we are devastated that this has happened.”
Roz Wulff, the daughter of resident Rene Williamson, spoke to the Crow about the impact the upheaval has had on her mum.

She said: “My mum is 91, paralysed from the waist down, incontinent and has the onset of dementia. She is a wheelchair user who is transferred by hoist four times a day.

“I couldn’t fault the care at Mary Barfield, but the problem is with Genesis – they keep moving the goal posts as to when my mum will be able to go back to her home.

“Old people are being moved to different care homes who don’t know their care needs. It’s not good for them – my mother never had a bedsore at Mary Barfield, but now she has.

“It’s my mother and I’m devoted to her, so I can’t believe they would treat old people like this. She doesn’t know what is happening, she doesn’t know when she can go back, and she says she wants to die – it’s heartbreaking.

“She’s old but you wouldn’t think it because she’s still a character, but this has taken it out of her as she thinks it’ll never get sorted.”

A Genesis spokeswoman said: “We understand that the weeks following the flooding at Mary Barfield House have been very difficult for our customers, and want to apologise to them and their families for any inconvenience and distress caused.

“Following the severe flooding at the property, the fire brigade identified a potential safety risk in the loft. This needs to be remedied before the customers are able to move back, in the interests of their safety.

“We have been working closely with the fire officer and property consultants to get this and all other works scoped and approved as quickly as possible, but unfortunately this has taken more time than we originally hoped – due to the complexity of what is required.

“We are committed to supporting our residents throughout this process and keeping them informed, and will ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum when they are able to return to Mary Barfield House.”

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