Published: 10:08, 23 May 2019
| Updated: 10:08, 23 May 2019
The future of Sandwich’s only care home has fallen into jeopardy after it was revealed it will no longer be sold as a going concern.
Following two failed attempts to sell the St Bart’s Road home, owners Kent County Council have said it is no longer “viable” to pursue that route.
Instead, the authority has launched a consultation, announcing its preferred option is to close the setting altogether.
Residents would be relocated to alternative care homes and options for developing older people’s accommodation, preferably in the Sandwich area in the form of Housing with Care, would be explored. Similar models include Caesar Court in Mongeham.
KKC councillor Sue Chandler has said that “every assistance” will be given to staff in finding new jobs.
In documents given to relatives of the service users at a private meeting last Wednesday, KCC say other options such as converting the site into specialist dementia unit have been explored.
However, it would be “very expensive to run” and “good provision is already available”.
Linda Bushell whose 93-year-old mother Barbara Bushell has lived at Wayfarers since September 2017, said she is “I was disgusted” by the update
Mrs Bushell said: “They are no further forward.
“It’s been a year and they’re saying virtually the same thing.
“They’re saying they’ve made no decision yet and they’re going to make a decision in October but to my mind, from what they’re saying here, I reckon they will close it.”
Ms Bushell, who lives in Deal, is concerned that the home’s proposed closure only adds to the national problem that there is a lack of care homes and places for elderly people throughout England.
She fears the closest alternative would be “miles away” in Margate, Ashford or Tonbridge.
She added: “Wayfarers is ideal for the residents.
“I consider them to be the best care home in this part of Kent.”
Wayfarers was built in 1983.
The final decision to sell the 33-bed unit as a going concern was made by cabinet member for adult social care and public health Graham Gibbens in January 2016. It’s understood that only two residents have previously lived in Sandwich.
A sale was set to take place within nine to 12 months but the change in ownership did not develop.
Plans were then made to sell the home to private company Compass Care Homes Ltd in April 2018, but complexities over staff pensions and registration with regulators Care Quality Commission (CQC) meant the sale was initially pushed back.
It then fell through in July of the same year.
Since then the home has been left less than 50% full and many staff have been left in limbo over the future of the jobs.
The home is well known for its events and activities with visits from lambs at Easter, donkeys at Christmas and fancy dress parties at Halloween, which are documented in our sister paper The Mercury.
Cllr Gibbens said: “We understand the concerns of the people of Sandwich about Wayfarers which is why we invested much time and resource in exploring a way forward for the delivery of care services in the area.
“This has shown us that people want to be supported to live independently in their own homes with the best care to meet their needs.
“Accordingly, the council is commissioning fewer residential services and investing in a variety of enablement and preventative services to fit all levels of need.”
You can your say via online questionnaire available at kent.gov.uk/wayfarersconsultation before July 24.
Alternatively, collect a paper form and a freepost envelope available from Wayfarers or libraries in Sandwich, Deal or Dover and send it to: Consultation Team, Adult Social Care and Health, Kent County Council, Invicta House, Maidstone, ME14 1XX.
Wayfarers will hold a coffee morning, vegetable sale and tombola from 10am until noon tomorrow (Friday, May 24). All are welcome.
More by this authorEleanor Perkins