'Unacceptable': Residents over 100 'thrown out' of Highgate care home
- Credit: Polly Hancock
The “throwing out” of elderly residents – some over 100 years old – from a Highgate residential home during the pandemic has been slammed as “absolutely shameful”.
Sixteen pensioners have been told they must leave Mary Feilding Guild (MFG) by the end of May, after the charitable trust sold the site to a private company, Highgate Care, on March 4.
Residents and families have told the Ham&High of their “anger” for vulnerable residents who have lived at MFG for years, with workers’ jobs also under threat.
The new owners say the facility, now called Highgate House Care Home, has been “financially unsustainable” for a long period, and that 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.
Resident Joy Winterbottom, 88, said: “This has been a wonderful home to us all for many years, and to be thrown out of it in our 80s, 90s and in some cases even older is devastating.
“The cost is affordable, the staff excellent, and the atmosphere could not be reproduced anywhere. All of us have flourished here.”
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Joy said residents were told their home was “safe” when MFG was put on the market, but now, with the facility sold, they are being “put at risk” in old age, having to find somewhere else to live.
“Not all of us are fit to do this, and anyway until the pandemic is over, it is not safe for us to do,” she said.
Joy added: “I and the other residents believe our peace and happiness is more important than the company’s profits.
“I hope the company will think again, or that Haringey Council will intervene, so that we can continue to live here.”
Cllr Sarah James, Haringey Council's health chief, said the local authority was offering assistance to residents in "very unfortunate circumstances".
Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, said she had arranged an urgent meeting with residents and workers.
“This is an absolutely shameful way to treat elderly residents and dedicated care staff who’ve just been through the most difficult of years,” Ms West said.
“To be told in the middle of a pandemic that they have less than three months to find a new home is unacceptable and understandably it’s caused huge distress and anxiety.”
Cllr Liz Morris (Highgate, Lib Dem) said the closure would cause "massive upheaval", and come as a “huge shock” to residents and their families.
A spokesperson for the trustees of MFG said: "We were deeply shocked and saddened to hear the news on Monday that the new owner has already concluded that the home is unviable and needs to be rebuilt from scratch.
"We will be writing to him to express our concerns and we are looking into how best to provide help and support to residents who will now need to find alternative accommodation.”
Highgate Care said the closure was “regrettable”, and that residents would be helped to find new homes.
A spokesperson said: “The home has been financially unsustainable over a long period of time and the new owners, who have significant experience in the care sector, have reviewed the existing business model and have concluded that unfortunately it is not possible to continue to provide care in the same way.
“The home in its current form is not adaptable to provide modern care or nursing facilities.”
MFG was founded in 1877 by Lady Mary Feilding. Residents at the Highgate home, which was rated ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission in 2018, have included editor Diana Athill.
Highgate Care was established in August last year. It is run by Mitesh Dhanak, who is the director of more than 20 residential care companies.