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Council care homes face closure less than a year after opening

Two state-of-the-art care homes are set to shut down just nine months after opening, leaving 83 dementia residents facing eviction during a pandemic.

Millvina House in Everton and Brushwood in Speke opened at a cost of £15m in October 2019, but now both face closure after it transpired operator Shaw Healthcare were unable to fulfil a 25-year contract with Liverpool City Council.

And to add to the concerns of panic-stricken relatives of residents, Merseyside was recently added to the government’s coronavirus watchlist.

Mayor Joe Anderson released a video statement putting blame “firmly at the door of the Government,” while Shaw have said the closures are a result of Covid-19 and lack of demand for beds.

However, discussions were already in place between the council and Shaw over financial concerns back in January — two months before Liverpool was set to feel the wrath of coronavirus — which families of residents learned on August 26.


“The residents of Millvina and their families should not be facing the tragic and dangerous prospect of being moved from their home this winter and at the height of a deadly pandemic."


A similar situation happened with Shaw in 2018, when the private firm found itself at loggerheads with Northamptonshire County Council over empty beds.


The two parties had an agreement for Shaw to operate four centres — much like the contract between Shaw and Liverpool City Council.


But some patients referred to centres by NCC were being deemed ineligible for residency due to terms of the contract, leaving many beds vacant.


When NCC failed to change the contract to allow more patients to fill homes, the dispute was taken to court and Shaw were ordered to pay out £100k to the council.


Interestingly, back in Liverpool, a resident was initially turned away when her family tried to get her into Millvina House.


Lyn Staunton fears this was because her mum requires EMI care and had to fight to have her mum placed in the Everton care home.


Indeed, if a person requires a greater level of care than can be provided, it is a breach of the contract between the council and Shaw.


“I’m fighting for my mother, who has had three moves in two years,” said Staunton.


“The main issue here is the ineptitude of Liverpool City Council, Joe Anderson and Cllr Paul Brandt, who have all been instrumental in getting these homes open and closing them down.


“Shaw has walked away free and not one penny of compensation has gone into this city. Now you tell me why.”


Infuriatingly for Staunton, the council has suggested Shaw will not be penalised because of the impact it will have on their business.


And so, it would seem, that the risk to a business outweighs the risk to 83 elderly lives.


The council adds that they too would be at a loss since full payment of the rent is linked to occupancy levels. But whether there is a lack of demand for beds is questionable.


A letter to a resident’s relative from Martin Farran, Director of Adult Services and Health for LCC, confirmed that the total occupancy for both homes was 49 in March 2020.


This would mean that 41% of the current occupancy were admitted during lockdown — a huge increase for homes that are allegedly struggling to fill beds.


Walton MP Dan Carden has urged Shaw to delay the closure of the homes until spring 2021.


“For Shaw Healthcare to walk away now would be a dereliction of duty,” he told Scottie Press.


“The residents of Millvina and their families should not be facing the tragic and dangerous prospect of being moved from their home this winter and at the height of a deadly pandemic.


“The current coronavirus restrictions would mean the most vulnerable people being moved at a time when their families are unable to assist, visit and support their relatives.


“At a time when thousands of care home residents have lost their lives to coronavirus, it is unacceptable that residents should be treated with such little concern.


“Having spoken to relatives of Millvina residents I believe the only reasonable outcome now is for Shaw Healthcare to delay the closure by six months until spring 2021.


“This would provide a welcome reprieve for residents and their families and allow time for further consideration of options to keep Millvina open for the long term.”


Carden and Maria Eagle, MP for Garston and Halewood, have previously written a joint letter asking the Government to provide funding to keep Millvina and Brushwood open.


“After a decade of cuts to social care budgets, too many people have been left to cope without the support they need,” added Carden.


“Ultimately, we want to see these services brought in-house and delivered in the public sector.”


Scottie Press also spoke to relatives of residents about their concerns.


Suzanne Emmett says her mother is “not a statistic but a human” and that she will fight for her until the end, adding she is disgusted by how appallingly the residents are being treated.


“These elderly are truly the victims of this pandemic and they don’t understand what the hell is going on,” she said.


“My mum, in her lucid moments, will feel we’ve abandoned her and now they expect us to move her. She’ll most probably have to isolate in a new care home and I’m not sure how they’ll manage that as she’s mobile with dementia.”


Lynne Evans praised staff at Millvina for looking after her father, who she says has never been more happy and safe after having a fall in a previous care home.


“He is finally getting the correct level of care he needs and absolutely deserves,” she said.


“My dad deserves to feel safe.”


Another relative, who wished to remain anonymous, revealed staff were upset not just for residents but for their jobs too. There are 132 staff across both homes.


Concerns have also been raised regarding Millvina’s close proximity to Anfield stadium and whether the home was will be used in future as a hotel for football fans.


Scottie Press understands that these claims have been dismissed by a representative from Liverpool FC.