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Coronavirus Kent: Relatives of residents at St John nursing home in Whitstable reveal anger of moving out during lockdown

Bosses are refusing to delay plans to kick elderly residents out of a nursing home - despite the country being put on lockdown amid the coronavirus crisis.

KentOnline revealed earlier this month that the St John Home in Whitstable will be closing on May 31, leaving 40 staff jobless.

St John Home in Whitstable Picture: St John Ambulance
St John Home in Whitstable Picture: St John Ambulance

Among the 13 elderly residents being evicted is 90-year-old Rene Tucker. Her daughter Liz Boys has accused St John Ambulance Service - which runs the home - of lacking compassion.

"I am rather hacked-off and frightened, if I’m honest," she said.

"Since [the announcement of the closure], the world has moved on and we are all being advised to do things to protect society.

"But St John refuse to bow to that and they are forcing the pace and us having to pack up."

Her mum has lived at St John for 10 years and Mrs Boys started looking for a new home on March 7, a day after the closure was announced.

"I just want them to realise what they have done is cruel and irresponsible..."

But because her mum has dementia, trying to tell her why she is losing her home proved to be "quite upsetting".

She added: "I have been fortunate. She has been offered a place and she will be moving out next week.

"But that doesn’t stop the situation of having to go out of the house on a regular basis, helping to pack her possessions.

"Everything I am doing is against government advice.

"I am putting everybody at risk, my husband is in remission from cancer. If there was ever somebody at risk, it is him."

Resident Rene Tucker has been forced to find a new home. Picture: Liz Boys
Resident Rene Tucker has been forced to find a new home. Picture: Liz Boys

Before, Mrs Boys was asking for the care home to delay the closure by six months so they could get past the pandemic - but now she has given up hope.

"I just want them to realise what they have done is cruel and irresponsible," she said.

"This place is their home and they are losing it at what is probably the worst time in a generation for the entire country, if not the world."

Another daughter of a resident, 103-year-old Gwen Dickinson, told how her mother is "confused" about having to leave the home.

Lesley Dickinson, who lives in Northwood Road, Tankerton, said she has found a new residency for her mum.

"I am so upset and angry about everything - you wouldn’t believe how angry I am," the 73-year-old said. "And now they won’t let me go to the home.

"It is the worst case scenario imaginable. I can’t understand why they have gone ahead with the closure under the circumstances - I am disgusted and appalled."

But Richard Lee, chief operating officer at St John, says the closure is still going ahead as planned.

“I understand the concerns raised and I give my personal assurance that our residents’ safety and wellbeing is our absolute priority," said Mr Lee.

“St John, as a clinically led organisation, has been meticulously following the Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England advice (specific to nursing homes) to ensure we adhere to any guidance given and continue to provide high quality, safe care to all our residents.

“Our nursing home team are continuing to plan the next steps with all residents and their families, and we are pleased that some have already safely moved to a new home.

“Alternative nursing home accommodation can provide purpose-built modern facilities, such as ensuite bathrooms, which offers residents more dignity as well as removing the need to share facilities, thus improving infection control.

“We will continue to closely monitor the PHE guidance and will act immediately should it change.”

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