Mary Feilding Guild: New owner urged to delay care home closure

Residents and staff at the Mary Feilding Guild - including six over-100s. Picture: Sarah Lee

Residents and staff from Mary Feilding Guild, pictured in 2015 - Credit: Archant

The new owner of a Highgate care home has been urged to delay its closure, after it told elderly residents to pack their bags. 

Mary Feilding Guild (MFG) sold the residential home in North Hill to Highgate Care on March 4. Four days later, residents in their 80s, 90s and 100s were told the accommodation would shut on May 31.  

The former, longstanding proprietor says the deal was completed on the “understanding” the new owner would upgrade facilities – not close, demolish and redevelop the home as outlined in pre-planning application proposals. 

Highgate Care said the three months it has given residents to move out would allow them time to find a new home.

A spokesperson for the trustees of MFG, who held a meeting on Friday (March 12), said residents and staff have been left in “genuine hardship” from the new owner’s “precipitate and unexpected action”. 

“We are appealing to the new owner to reconsider this wholly unnecessary decision to shut the home immediately,” the spokesperson said. 

Joy Winterbottom, 88, says residents are being put at risk

Joy Winterbottom, 88, called on Highgate Care to "think again" - Credit: Polly Hancock

“We believe that it is not unreasonable to delay the closure procedure to one month before a start on site is possible.  

“This would allow residents and staff reasonable time to consider their options, and by this time the pandemic should have eased.” 

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Cllr Liz Morris (Lib Dem, Highgate) said she has “major reservations” about the new direction of the old people's home, which is now called Highgate House Care Home. 

“There have been no public plans put forward for a new care home, yet in three months all residents will be gone,” Cllr Morris said.  

A spokesperson for Highgate Care said six of the current 16 residents had new homes lined up, and said the facility under MFG had become “financially unsustainable for many years”.  

Public accounts show MFG’s income from residential care fell from £1.4m to £1.07m in the year up to March 31 2020, at the onset of the pandemic.   

Mary Feilding Guild, in View Road

Mary Feilding Guild, in View Road - Credit: Polly Hancock

“In setting the timeframe for the closure, we have taken on board the time it will take residents to reasonably find alternative accommodation, balanced with wanting to remove the uncertainty of where they will be living at the earliest opportunity,” the spokesperson said.  

“It is with this in mind that a three-month window was considered sensible.” 

Highgate Care said there would be “some flexibility” for people unable to move by May 31.

The spokesperson said the company hoped residents’ anxieties over relocating would be eased as they were offered their second Covid jab this week. 

The company has said it is considering a “number of options” for the site’s future.

Committee papers from Haringey Council show pre-planning application discussions are under way for the building’s demolition and redevelopment as a new 72-bed care home. The facility, accessed from View Road and North Hill, currently has 42 rooms.

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West has launched a petition calling for the plans to be halted.