NPC: Home owner using ‘shameful and spurious’ reasons to close care home and evict elderly
NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt issued the following statement in response to the latest news from the owner of the Mary Feilding Guild Care Home. He intends closing the property, which will lead to residents aged between 80 and 100 losing their long-term home. We are concerned that his latest announcement concerning alleged Legionnaires' disease will advance the closure date.
Jan Shortt, General Secretary, NPC:
“The National Pensioners Convention is appalled at the behaviour of the new owner of this care home in London.
Mitesh Dhanak, who has a portfolio of many care homes (including Precious Homes Group) purchased the home with residents aged from 85 to 104 years old in situ, having made a commitment to retain both the staff and the home as a going concern. He then gave notice to quit by the end of May. That notice was given just days after the sale was concluded and constitutes a breach of trust.
It also calls into question the role of the trustees of the Mary Feilding Guild Home Trust. The Memorandum and Articles make it clear that its charitable assets are to be transferred to an entity with similar values and objectives as the Trust in the event of closure or dissolution. In this case, the Trustees have demonstrated a lack of due diligence in the sale of the home and their failure to safeguard the vulnerable people for whom they are responsible. What is the point of the Charities Commission and governing documents if they have no relevance or validity?
There are a number of issues tied up in this matter, none so important as the health and well-being of residents for whom the Mary Feilding/Highgate care home has been their only home for some decades. To expect these residents (even with support) to be happy about leaving is incredible – more so since they have not left the home during lockdown and restrictions still apply.
There is the question of due diligence (or lack of) by Mr. Dhanak in the run up to the point of sale. Mr. Dhanak only mentioned that the home ‘had been unsustainable for some time’ after he purchased it. Therefore, we ask whether the sale and his promise to retain the home, residents and staff was genuine. It seems not. He has only recently mentioned the issue of Legionella affecting the home, which, we believe was investigated and not a threat to residents. He is agitating to close the home immediately and using spurious reasons to do so. As soon as the home is closed, developers will move onto the site to build a new profit-making establishment.
We question how he did not know that the home was ‘unsustainable’ and that legionella had been dealt with and was no threat to the health, safety and welfare of residents.
We also call out the government under whose auspices this appalling broken system of care marches on without any indication of radical change. There are no legal safeguards to give tenure for life for those needing care, there is no system in place to stop care homes from closing at the drop of a hat. Care homes have no more protection than a corner shop with the residents seen as commodities. It should be to their shame that our older generation and others in need of care are treated in such a manner.
We challenge the government to start an urgent public debate on care and the establishment of a National Care Service, free at the point of need, publicly funded, delivered and accountable.
Download the press release below