Coldstream's home for the elderly facing closure

FOURTEEN elderly people in Coldstream, including one who is over 100 years old and another coming up to 100, face being moved from their home after administrators for Victoria Lodge residential home indicated they intend closing it as soon as possible.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 16th June 2010, 4:08 pm

Since 2008 when Nightingale Care Lodge Limited, who owned Victoria Lodge, went into administration Vantis Business Recovery Services has been running the home while at the same time trying to come up with a buyer. However, no purchaser has come forward with an offer in the region of 300,000 and residents, relatives and staff were told last Wednesday that time was now up and the home would be closed.

Scottish Borders Council's social work staff were also at the meeting and they indicated that it would take a minimum of eight weeks to reassess the needs of all residents to ensure they were re-homed appropriately.

However, relatives and staff (12 full time and three part time) have come out fighting.

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Craig Wood, a relative of one of the residents, said: "A group of concerned local people, including relatives of residents, staff of Victoria Lodge, health and business professionals and Roxburgh & Berwickshire MSP John Lamont, quickly met to discuss the potential closure of Victoria Lodge which has been served on the families at very short notice.

"The group are entirely committed to avoiding closure of Victoria Lodge if at all possible and are exploring all avenues at present. Within 48 hours of the meeting on Wednesday, 100,000 had been pledged in the form of charitable donations by supporters and well-wishers. The administrators have allowed the group until this week to come up with evidence of funding and serious proposals to avoid closure of the care home.

MSP John Lamont said: "Clearly the closure of Victoria Lodge would be a great loss to the town and district of Coldstream, not to mention the stress and anxiety that a move would cause residents, many of whom are incredibly old and frail, and the potentially devastating loss of around 15 jobs in the town.

"I am pleased to be a member of the group that has formed in response to the threatened closure of Victoria Lodge and I will provide all the support and assistance that I possibly can to avert the home's closure."

The local consortium have contacted both Guardian Care Homes, who run Lennel House and also own the derelict Trafalgar House, and also Seton Care (the subsidiary of Berwickshire Housing Association who run Seton Hall at Berwick and also sheltered housing such as Gowanlea in Coldstream). Their hope is that one of the companies will be prepared to consider either buying Victoria Lodge. Or if the consortium can get the money together and buy it, they would asked if one of the companies would be prepared to run it.

By Wednesday morning the most likely chance of saving Victoria Lodge looked to be the possibility of a local buy-out, with Seton Care prepared to look at running it, althought they have ruled out buying the home.

Scottish Borders Council's director of social work, Andrew Lowe, said: "The care home Victoria Lodge in Coldstream has been in administration for 22 months. During this period the administrators have made repeated attempts to sell the home as a going concern.

Administrators have recently informed the council that the home is now on 'closure alert', and processes are being put in place to decommission the home.

"Since being advised, the council has worked closely with the administrator, NHS Borders, the Care Commission and other local authorities to ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place for all residents from wherever they came should they be required. All will have a current assessment of need in order to ensure that they are able to move to an appropriate new placement.

"The council has already attended a meeting with relatives and together with NHS Borders is commencing an updated assessment. We will continue to liaise closely with the residents, relatives and staff to ensure that any move takes place smoothly and sensitively and there are currently a number of alternative placements locally that can enable residents to remain in the local area should they prefer.

"Although the council recognises that these are clearly difficult and upsetting circumstances for all concerned, we will continue to work closely with the administrator to ensure that the process is managed effectively.

"The needs of the residents will be our major consideration."

No one from the administrators was available for comment when contacted on several occasions this week.

A member of staff said: "Residents are very upset. One has been here nine years and thought this would be her last move.

" They know all the staff and it's just shocking that they do this to these old people and not give us a bit of time to try and raise the money."

If you want to know more about the local group that has been established, about Victoria Lodge or if you wish to donate to this cause contact Craig Wood on 01573 224143 (office hours) and 01890 883763 (evenings).