Water ‘disgrace’

Kim Silk outside Ravensmount Residential Care Home in Alnwick.
Kim Silk outside Ravensmount Residential Care Home in Alnwick.

A PENSIONER who is paying almost £1,700 a month to live in a north Northumberland care home hasn’t been able to take a bath for over two weeks because there has been no running hot water.

Eighty-nine-year-old Rhoda Hurst’s grand-daughter, Kim Silk, says staff at Ravensmount in Alnwick have had to boil water in the kitchen since the heating system broke down at the end of March.

And she is furious at the length of time that managers have taken to sort out the problem, given the age and vulnerability of residents at the home.

“It is not the fault of the staff,” said Mrs Silk, who lives in High Newton. “They are doing the best they can given the circumstances.

“My grandmother pays £419 a week to be there – £1,676 a month – yet she can’t even get a bath because there is no hot water. To let this go on for weeks is disgraceful.

“Because the central heating is off, residents were given a heater in each room and now the electricity supply frequently trips. It’s a shambles.

“The sale of my grandmother’s home is funding her care, so it makes me angry to see her in a situation like this. She’s 90 this year. It is completely unacceptable.”

Ravensmount, on Alnmouth Road, is one of four similar properties in the North East owned by Moorlands Care Homes, whose director is David Ratliff. He confirmed that the boiler had failed on March 22 and had been fixed, but broke down again on March 26. It is expected to be working again today (Thursday).

Dr Ratliff, who also owns the Blue Bell Hotel in Belford and recently bought the village golf club, said: “At no time has the home been less than warm and always above the required temperature. We have full back-up via oil-filled radiators, routine radiators and halogen heating to every bedroom, plus every communal area.

“The engineer organised sourcing of parts and diagnosed an internal cold water fracture. The pipe was fixed. However, by March 30, as parts were not accessible, we ordered new boilers. The engineers have been on site from Monday, April 4, to present.

“Hot water – at all times when the boiler was off – has been supplied by hot water cylinders in the kitchen and water heaters on each floor. For respective dates, it is confirmed that hot water was not available from normal taps. Personal hot water and hygiene has not been compromised.

“We are pleased to confirm all residents, relatives, Care Quality Commission and the local authority have been kept informed.

“Given the fact that no such home would have a second large commercial boiler, the remedy has been effected as quickly as humanly possible.”

He added: “Our long-standing staff are much-complimented by residents and any concerned resident or relative has a forum to raise concerns. We have been pleased at the response of relatives and residents who appeared to have understood the predicament, now resolved. Care for residents is our priority and we took advice from heating professionals. We are pleased the matter is being actively resolved.”

A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said: “Adult services has been aware of the problem with the boiler at Ravensmount and has been in negotiation over this with the management of the home.

“We are assured that the issue will be resolved shortly, and we are monitoring the situation closely.”