Tears as Kingswood closure is confirmed

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RESIDENTS and relatives are devastated following Friday’s announcement that Kingswood Park Care Home in March will close later this year.

The future of the much-loved care home off Burrowmoor Road was sealed at a meeting held at Kingswood Park on Friday afternoon.

It means all the residents, many of them suffering from dementia, will be forced to move out before the end of October and also redundancy or re-deployment for staff.

The closure also affects dozens of elderly people from in and around March who use the day centre facility hosted at Kingswood Park three days a week.

Families, residents and day care users launched a major campaign, backed by the Citizen, to save the home when home operators Methodist Homes for the Aged (MHA) announced last month they were thinking of closing Kingswood Park.

A petition gathered nearly 1,700 signatures in less than two weeks and nearly 200 coupons published in the Citizen were returned calling on MHA to think again.

Copies of the petition were also sent to site owners Sanctuary Group and Cambridgeshire County Council.

A decision by the county council not to renew a contract to block book beds at Kingswood Park was pointed to as one of the reasons why MHA had decided to look at closure.

Campaigners feared the decision to close was a foregone conclusion before the consultation period was even properly under-way because they believe Sanctuary Group want to redevelop the site.

However, a spokesman for Sanctuary Group has denied this suspicion and said no decisions on the future of the site have been made.

But on Friday those fears came true. Now it is a question of finding alternative places for the residents with many worried it could mean a move to homes well away from March.

Campaigner Jo Marsters, whose mum Lucy Williamson (92) has been in Kingswood Park for the past three years, reported that Friday’s meeting was extremely emotional and heated.

She said many of the residents were in tears and the day centre users were similarly upset and angry.

A spokesman for MHA said: “We deeply regret that there is no option but to confirm the closure of Kingswood Park on October 31 2011. The desire of residents and staff to keep it open is evidence of its strong ethos and the high quality care it provides.

“As a charity providing accommodation, care and support services for older people, we must consider the long-term prospects of our homes and services in order to sustain our high standards both for current residents and those we will serve in the future.

“We recognise that there is never a good time to close a home but there are issues that MHA as care provider and Sanctuary Group as the owner of the building have been unable to overcome, namely the size of the rooms and the fact that there are no en-suite facilities.

“These facts are unsustainable into the future. We will now do everything in our power, along with the council, to help residents and relatives find a new care home.

“Members of staff will be offered employment in Queen’s Court care home in Bottisham, Orchard House care home in Sawston or any other MHA service as an alternative to redundancy, wherever possible.

County Councillor Fred Yeulett, Portfolio holder for Social Care, said the council would work hard to find places for the residents as close to March as possible.

He said some places had already been found in March and Doddington and all local care homes have agreed to ring fence future vacancies for Kingswood Park residents .