Lack of nurses forcing OAPs out of Cumbrian nursing home

A shortage of nurses has led to vulnerable elderly people being forced to leave their nursing home, say the owners.

Hazel Bank at Yanworth, near Penrith, is about to be de-registered as a nursing home and switch to being solely a care home.

Which means its most sick and neediest residents, some understood to be in their 90s, have to move out.

Although relatives knew the move was coming, a few days ago there were fears it would be speeded up.

The latest staffing crisis at the privately-run home meant there were not enough nurses to cover shifts this weekend. Residents were being prepared to go with just 24 hours notice.

Then NHS Cumbria, which is responsible for placing the county’s elderly in nursing homes, agreed to provide temporary nursing cover.

But it’s not a permanent solution to the problem. The residents still have to leave.

Francesca Windsor owns the home with her husband Daniel under the name Number One Care Ltd.

She told the News & Star the decision to de-register was difficult but unavoidable.

She said Hazel Bank could not recruit enough of its own nurses. And even agency staff have been turning down offers of work because the location is too remote.

Mrs Windsor said: “I’m very concerned by the situation. One day I will be like these residents if I’m lucky enough to live long enough.

“Our own nurses, who are excellent, were having to cover the shifts and so the staff shortages were going to end up having an effect on the services and the care we offer.

“This situation is not what we wanted – we had no other choice.”

According to Mrs Windsor the problem had been ongoing for several months before the Care Quality Commission (CQC) was asked if Hazel Bank could de-register.

The request was made in April, then residents and their relatives were involved in a three-month consultation process.

The CQC, which inspects social care, has given permission to de-register and eight of the nine residents affected have been found places elsewhere. NHS Cumbria and Cumbria County Council staff have been working with families to help them find new homes for their relatives.

There are beds available in Eden, but Hazel Bank is the only nursing home in the Penrith area. The closest alternative is at Low Hesket or Appleby.

Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart has been monitoring events at Hazel Bank and on Thursday he met with NHS Cumbria executives to discuss his concerns.

Mr Stewart is encouraged by the primary care trust’s assurances that it would supply nursing care.

But he also warned: “The residents at Hazel Bank are incredibly vulnerable, fragile and prone to high mortality rates if moved from a secure environment with nursing staff they know and trust.”

Mr Stewart now intends to carry out research into the level of nursing care available in Penrith and the Border.