A curt response by a government spokesperson caught my eye in last week’s Ham&High (‘MP calls for review of Mary Feilding Guild Care Home sale’) regarding the shocking notices served on the elderly residents of this care home, only days after its takeover.

It stated: “Providers buying and selling care homes is a normal part of a functioning market.”

What a cynical reflection. It made no acknowledgement that residents have a social need for "care" and a "home".

So, is the market "functioning" for carers and residents - or owners? Have care homes run by charitable trusts become particularly vulnerable to the "functioning market"? They can provide rich pickings.

Ham & High: Sue Hessel is worried about the impact The Mary Feilding Guild Care Home story could have on us allSue Hessel is worried about the impact The Mary Feilding Guild Care Home story could have on us all (Image: Sue Hessel)

The concept of social need was inherent in social policy until ten years ago. Back in 2011, Haringey Council itself closed down all five of its kindly care homes for 172 residents, leaving carers with no option but to find new places for their loved ones, and use the "functioning market".

Essentially care homes sit on property and land, they charge huge fees (often well over £1,500 per week per resident) and when they sell, they make profits. For example, in 2017 when care providers CareTech bought rival provider Selborne Care Ltd, founded in 2006, Selborne’s four directors reportedly exited the business for £17 million.

Surely when it comes to something as important as a care home, we need more than a functioning market.

In a letter to last week’s Ham & High, local councillors revealed that Haringey planners were notified back in August at a pre-planning application meeting around potential changes to the Mary Feilding site. Did the council ask any questions?

What about the public bodies providing the checks and balances? The Charity Commission? The Care Quality Commission? And the trustees - were they surprised by the shock announcement?

Without adequate scrutiny by public bodies, how can residents’ families and their loved ones know that their place in a care home is safe. No one knows when the time might come when they, or a family member, may need one. The Mary Feilding Guild Care Home story speaks to us all.

  • Sue Hessell is a campaigner in Crouch End.