Distressing scenes as Luton care home closes

FAMILIES affected by the closure of the Griffin Care Centre have described the ‘chaos’ caused by the sudden decision to move out all of its residents.

The Griffin, owned by Southern Cross, had to close on Monday after it was threatened with legal action by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to stop it operating as a care home.

But relatives say the decision to close the home has caused disruption to vulnerable elderly people.

Eileen Perring, of Leagrave High Street, said she turned up to visit her father, 87-year-old Peter Doran, on Wednesday, to find he had already been moved, despite having been told it would not happen for another 48 hours.

She said: “When I got there it was chaos, you couldn’t get into the place. Everyone was crying.

“When I got to my dad at his new home he had the barest minimum with him, even his false teeth had been left behind. Luton Borough Council and the CQC had just shoved my dad out.

“It was all so distressing, especially for a dementia patient.”

Mrs Perring praised staff at the Griffin for the way they had cared for her father during his year there, saying they had gone “way beyond” the call of duty for him.

“They were out of this world – he had the most wonderful people looking after him,” she added.

David Hughes, of Great Northern Road, Dunstable, said: “I was told late on Tuesday that the home would be closing on Friday, and I was one of the first to find out.

“My mother had only been there for a month and although I wouldn’t have raved about it, it was all right. I don’t understand why it all had to be done in three days. There are an awful lot of upset relatives.”

Donna Stevens, 43, of Highwood Close, Farley Hill, said she was told on Wednesday that her partner Dave’s mother had to be moved the following day.

“It was atrocious,” she said. “They completely forgot to send her medication with her and when I called the Griffin they said they didn’t know which medication she should have. I am glad she’s out of there.

“There were problems from the beginning. I think some of the staff were from agencies and it was just a job for them.”

CQC inspectors say they had acted on serious concerns about several aspects of care at the home, particularly in relation to the way medication was being given to residents.

During one visit they had to take ‘direct action’ to prevent trained staff giving two medicines together that should have been given separately, despite previously flagging up the problem, a spokesman said.

A spokesman for Luton Borough Council said the authority had responded “extremely quickly in difficult circumstances” to support Southern Cross during the emergency relocation.

She added: “We will continue to support individuals and their families and will look into any concerns individuals may have as a result of the decision by Southern Cross to close this home.”

Phil Keeling, area manager for Southern Cross Healthcare, said: “Regrettably, we can confirm that recent CQC inspection visits highlighted some concerns regarding the dispensing of medication within the Griffin Care Centre.

“We can only apologise for any disruption or concern that has resulted from the re-homing of the Griffin Care Home’s former residents.

“Since the announcement that the home was to close, we have been working closely with the primary care trust (PCT) and the local authority. Our combined aim was always to make the complicated process of relocating the 56 affected residents as smooth and as efficient as possible.

“The voluntary decision to close the Griffin Care Centre was not made lightly. The feedback from recent CQC visits and input from both the local authority and PCT were both taken into account when we were evaluating the necessary work needed to achieve acceptable standards of care within the home.

“As the improvements needed were not achievable within the required timeframe, closure of The Griffin Care Home was the only responsible option.”