BREAKING: Seton Hall closure

Protest against Seton Hall Care Home in Berwick closing. The protest heads down Walkergate.
Protest against Seton Hall Care Home in Berwick closing. The protest heads down Walkergate.

Seton Hall residential care home is to close after several months of protest and exploring possible funding options.

Residents and their families have been assured that “everything will be done to minimise the impact of the closure”, including, where appropriate, access to care planning for the future and support with relocation costs.

In a statement published today, Helen Forsyth, chief executive of Berwickshire Housing Association Group, which owns Seton Care said: “We have spent several months exploring possible options for Seton Hall which would allow it to remain open. Despite our hard work and that of the staff group at Seton Hall and the local community I am sorry to say that after a period of consultation with staff, residents and families no alternatives were presented to the Board.

“The Board has therefore been left with no choice but to move towards the closure of Seton Hall.

“Despite exploring every possible option, no other external parties have been able to find a viable solution to the problems of rising vacancies at Seton Hall and the growing maintenance costs of the building, which is almost 50 years old. Over the past four years we have spent substantial sums of money on essential repairs, and estimate that further large amounts of work will need to be done each year just to maintain it to liveable standards. This is simply not sustainable. Because there is no support from Northumberland County Council for us to build a new care home, no lender will offer us the money we need to replace the building.

“We would like to reassure residents and their families that we will do everything possible to minimise the impact of the closure on residents. The closure will be done gradually in order to make the transition as smooth as possible. We will work with the Local Authority and their Safeguarding Team to ensure that all of our residents needs are considered.

“We have already sought advice on Best Practice from a range of experienced agencies including the Care Quality Commission and will continue to do so to minimise the impact on residents.

“NCC will ensure that every resident has access to a key worker who is qualified to undertake their assessment and care planning for the future.

“Seton Care will also ensure that our resident liaison officer will work alongside NCC to support all residents and their families in finding a new place to live, and will also act as their advocate.

“NCC is also sponsoring an advocacy service which is available to all. Where appropriate we will offer support with relocation costs.

“We will work with all our staff to help them with redeployment, training for job applications, coaching for interviews and counselling, throughout the redundancy and closure process. If it is at all possible we will seek to move groups of residents, or residents and their carers, to other care homes where there are a number of vacancies and staff vacancies.”

She continued: “We know Seton Hall is held in high regard amongst residents, families, staff and the wider community, so it is important to emphasise that we have given this decision very careful consideration.  I am very sorry we have no other option than to close Seton Hall.  We genuinely were keen to find an alternative to closure and this is why we had agreed to an extension to the timescales originally set. I would like to thank all the staff for their loyal service over the years and let everyone know that we continue to appreciate their efforts, including those over the last few months.”

Andrew Watson, chair of Seton Care Board added: “The board are grateful to the Seton Hall staff and community group for taking the time and effort to consider a plan to keep Seton Hall open and we are sorry that these efforts were unsuccessful. 

“The Board of Seton Care has carefully considered the results of the consultation process but unfortunately, as no viable alternative became apparent during the process, the Board has decided with great regret to proceed with the closure of Seton Hall.”