'They told us it would be my mum's forever home - now I don't know where she'll go'

Lanarkshire families worried after one of the UK’s largest care home providers announces it is closing three of its specialist dementia units.

People with loved ones in specialist dementia units in Lanarkshire say they’re scared they could end up back on a locked hospital ward, after the care home provider announced it was terminating services.

HC-One’s Milnwood, Mossend and Orbiston units in Bellshill are the only sites in the area that look after residents with advanced dementia needs.

Ann McGill, from Bothwell, says it’s been a lifeline for her 85-year-old mother Jan, who was moved from nursing home to nursing home before ending up on Ward 24 of University Hospital Monklands – an adult psychiatric ward for people with dementia.

Ann McGill.STV News

She told STV News: “It was a huge relief when she was offered a place in Hatton Lea. She started to come on a lot better. To get her into a nice, homely, care home was really good for her, and important to us as a family.

“They told us it would be her forever home…now all of a sudden we don’t know where they’re going to go. We feel like they’ve pulled the rug out from under our feet.”

Hatton Lea’s specialist dementia units in Bellshill provide care to 40 residents, some of whom have been there for more than a decade. 

Evelyn Meechan’s husband Sandy was also moved to Hatton Lea last year after five months at University Hospital Monklands in Airdrie.

She said: “We’ve got two adult daughters and they left in tears after seeing the unit. The units were shabby, and it did break our hearts to leave him there. However, now he’s out of hospital I’ll never allow him back there.

“The care was excellent, the staff was excellent, and I wrote to HC-One about my concerns.

“They wrote back to say they had money set aside, and would be starting refurbishment pretty soon.”

Evelyn Meechan.STV News

However, rather than refurbishment, the company announced in February that the units were no longer “fit for purpose” – and insisted it was in the best interest of residents to be supported in “other care settings”.

A spokesperson for Hatton Lea said the firm worked with NHS partners to find a viable solution for “over 12 months” and the goal was always “to keep these care communities open”.

In that time, the firm says it presented a range of options – including redevelopment and refurbishment – to NHS partners, but ultimately failed to reach an agreement that would see adequate funding to allow the units to remain open:

The spokesperson said: “Sadly, despite lengthy discussions, we could not reach an agreement whereby the NHS could move to a more appropriate funding model that matched our commitment to also invest in the home, as we are doing at other homes across Scotland. As a result, unfortunately we were therefore left with no choice but to close the three communities.

“The priority now is to support our residents to find alternative specialist care placements that meet their needs. We are working closely with NHS Lanarkshire and both North and South HSCP, who are leading the care reviews of the individuals involved, and we are supporting residents, families, and colleagues. We have also committed to keeping these communities open for at least six-months.

“Hatton Lea has two other units that are unaffected by this and will remain open, part of HC-One, and will continue to operate as normal as part of our commitment to the Bellshill area.”

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A spokesperson for University Health & Social Care North Lanarkshire said: “The company which operates Hatton Lea care home has issued us with notice that it is terminating the contract for the hospital-based complex clinical care service.

“This decision was not the choice of University Health & Social Care North Lanarkshire or NHS Lanarkshire.

“We understand this unexpected news has caused uncertainty for the service’s residents and their families/carers.

“We are starting to carry out full reviews of each resident’s care needs and will be fully involving families/carers throughout these reviews. Our overriding priority is ensuring their continued safety, minimising distress and supporting them and their families/carers through this process.

“Work is well underway to rapidly identify a replacement service in a comfortable and homely environment. We are also providing support as necessary to staff to ensure the service’s residents remain everyone’s number one priority throughout the process.”

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