Relative and ex-owner react to Alnwick home closure

Ravensmount Residential Care Home in Alnwick.
Ravensmount Residential Care Home in Alnwick.

The daughter of one of the residents of an Alnwick care home which is set to close has said it ‘was carried out with minimal compassion’.

Last week, the Gazette reported that Ravensmount Residential Care Home, on Alnmouth Road, is to close amid financial difficulties sparked by critical inspection reports earlier this year.

It was given the lowest rating of inadequate following a visit by the Care Quality Commission earlier this year.

A new operator had taken over in the aftermath of this criticism, but a referral suspension remained in place, meaning the low occupancy could not increase.

In a letter to the Gazette, Elisabeth Haddow, whose father has lived there for 'seven happy years', was critical of the way in which the news was broken.

She said: "This closure was carried out with minimal compassion for residents, relatives or staff. The owner offered no sympathy or expressed any regret as to the timing and has not returned to speak to anyone who will be caused distress by this closure."

However, in a statement given to the Gazette last week, Gemma Touray, the managing director/registered provider, from Touray & Co, said: "After consultations, it has been a very difficult decision for us to make with no other option but to close Ravensmount Care Home. We realise that it is so close to Christmas, but no time is a good time to impart bad news such as this."

Mrs Haddow also queried the reasons behind the takeover, saying: "If Ms Touray was serious about making Ravensmount a going concern, why had she made no effort to embark upon some short-term goals and make the building appealing to prospective clients?"

However, Ms Touray said: "Due to financial reasons caused by the continuous low occupancy, it has been difficult to run the home and meant that we cannot carry on."

But Mrs Haddow was complimentary about the service provided, saying that her father ‘has been well cared for by the staff throughout all of this’ and was complimentary about his stay at the home.

The previous registered provider, David Ratliff, of Moorlands Holdings, has also responded to last week’s article, saying that he is ‘shocked, surprised and disappointed’ that Ravensmount is closing.

He said: "Ravensmount is a lovely, ‘homely’ home, not a sterile, purpose-built edifice reminiscent of budget hotels, as many are.

"The local authority’s Independent Assessor reports of August 2012, 2013, and 2014 are glowing and back this up, as residents, relatives and staff know and appreciate. We know it resulted in a warm congenial family atmosphere – lacking in many homes.

"For the prevention of doubt, until the full takeover of the home on June 3, 2015, by Touray and Co, there was no blocking of admissions to the home. Touray and Co had a contract of management from October 2014 and knew every aspect of the home. They had their manager in the home before the June takeover and they were aware of the annual inspection in the summer. It is therefore erroneous to suggest they ‘inherited problems’ from the previous providers."