A petition which has been created in response to the potential closure of two dementia-specific care homes, has already gained 367 signatures.
It comes after reports that Kirklees Council have informed residential families of a proposal to close Castle Grange in Huddersfield and Claremont House in Heckmondwike – with plans to move the residents to alternative care.
And now the families affected are calling for action by asking those in favour of saving the two council run nursing homes to sign the petition.
The announcement has sparked a shock response from the families of the patients who reside in Castle Grange and Claremont House, the outraged families say the closure would be “detrimental” to the health of their loved ones.
Sara Blagbrough, whose mum currently resides at Castle Grange following a diagnosis with Early Onset dementia in 2017, started the petition with a view to gain at least 500 signatures.
Sarah said:”My mum Jenet was diagnosed with early onset dementia in 2017. It came as a huge shock for the famil as she wasn’t even 60. Obviously it’s a progessive illness and we cared for her at home for as long as we possibly could but it got to the point where it was no longer viable to keep her at home in terms of safety.
“So we were forced to make the heartbreaking decision to find residential care for her, which was really difficult. Despite mum having funding behind her it was really difficult to find a home that could meet her needs and ours. We didn’t want to just drop her at the door and visit once or twice a week, we still wanted to be a part of her daily life and care.
“Castle Grange were the ones that were willing to accomodate mum’s needs. She moved in in the May it was really difficult for me but the staff were incredible from the minute we stepped foot through the door. And ever since they have just been so accomodating I’m able to go with my young children, my sister who has accessibility issues is catered for. We can go any time of day and we’ve all developed really close relationships with the staff and the other families.
“The transition went even better than we ever thought was possible. Mum is now smiley again, she is content and has an amazing relationship with the staff. We visit every day and are always welcomed with open arms.
“I found it quite isolating caring for mum at home because she is non verbal, whereas now I can still be there to meet mum’s needs but I’ve got people to speak to. The staff could sense I still needed to be able to care for me and they support that. They really have bent over backwards, mum absolutley beems when she sees the staff, she smiles, she’s laughing, it’s lovely to see.”
Sadly, Sara’s bubble was burst on Tuesday, August, 29 when she received a letter from Kirklees Council regarding upcoming plans. Sara claims the letter outlines the councils proposal to close Castle Grange and move the residents to alternative care.
“At first glance I thought they were proposing a few increase, which I kind of expected given the cost of living crisis but I didn’t expect they were actually proposing a potential closure. It’s just outrageous to me.
“These residents, the service users are the most vulnerable. They don’t have a choice. So we are having to pull together to advocate on their behalf. It’s unfair and it feels like it’s being done a little under the radar.
“It’s a form of eviction in my eyes, taking these people out of their home, it’s unethical. I was told this morning that yes, they will all find placements, but not necessarily in Kirklees.
“So they could be placed somewhere completely unfamiliar to them and in terms of visitation that could be made really difficult for the families who are local. It’s dangerous, this may result in some of the most elderly patients even dying because the change will be too much for them to cope with.
“Castle Grange was purpose built for residents with dementia, it’s full equipped. Not all care homes are like that. I’m just so upset we fought so long to keep her at home and it was such a difficult time.
“I’d just had twins and then Covid hit and I was trying to juggle being a good carer to mum with being a good mum to the girls and meet everybodies needs. And then the battle of finding a suitable care home, it was really difficult.
“It really is like a extended family at Castle Grange, we all help each other out. And now I feel like I’m back to having to fight again. And I will fight for mum, like she always fought for us, but I shouldn’t have to.
“It’s scary and I’m really worried about it all, I understand there are financial concerns but it is unacceptable to target the most vulnerable people in society.”
And Sara isn’t the only family member affected by the propostions, care assistant Tina Green, whose mum is also at Castle Grange has been left “very upset” and “angry” by the reports of a potential closure.
Get breaking news in Yorkshire straight to your phone
Tina, 54, said: “My mum has been in Castle Grange since October 2021, she has dementia. She is settled and loves it there, she has a friend she’s with everyday.
“A move for her now would definitely be detrimental to her health and well being, the staff are amazing and mums so used to them all so it would be very very sad if it were to close.
“I first found out about the pending closure on Saturday from a relative who had recieved a letter, I did not get a letter so it came as a massive shock.
“The council being in debt was mentioned this is the reason for the pending closure! It makes me so angry that they have spent thousands on doing the town centre up and its the homes of these lovley residents that have to pay the price its just not fair.
“I’ve been working in care homes for 36 years and I’ve seen first hand a home closing and the impact it has on residents, they decline and give up.”
Sara said she set up the petition with hopes to get enough local support to “make the council realise that Castle Grange is an asset to the Kirklees community, we should be celebrating it not stripping the community of it.”
The petition, which has a goal of 500 signatures, reads: “Castle Grange is a council run, dementia specific home. Kirklees Council has announced a proposal to close Castle Grange and move the residents to alternative care.”
“This would be hugely detrimental to the residents who need routine and familiarity in order to have the best quality of life. A move is likely to result in dramatic deterioration for those affected by dementia. The decision to close Castle Grange or not will be made by the end of September 2023 so we need to act NOW!!
“The staff at Castle Grange are dedicated to providing high quality care and getting to know each individual. They are welcoming to family and friends.”
The petition has been flooded with support online. Amy Sutton said: “I disagree with the home being closed. There are residents in there that are already confused moving them now would make them worse, can make their dementia worse.
“Please keep it open please for the lovely residents who don’t deserve to be in that position as it is.”
Karen Luke penned: “Castle grange is a home from home my sister Janet who has been living there for 18 months and at 66 probably one of the youngest residents. As a family we know she is safe and well looked after and as a family whenever we visit no matter what time or day there’s always a member of staff to talk to about anything.
“These people not only do a fantastic job but are so caring and give us a piece of mind that we know Janet is well cared for . It will be such a tragedy if this home has to close through no fault of the service users or brilliant staff but because of fat cat wages.”
Ben Brown agreed: “There is no way on Earth Castle Grange should be closing the only reason I can see it closing is due to money.
“Why is it always the vulnerable people in our society get punished or picked on first, I am friend of the family and Gemma Blagbourgh has told me how much her mother is thriving at Castle Grange So Why would you risk all that by moving her and her friends to new Care home ?
It just doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Kirklees Council have said no final decision has been as of yet, a spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment at this time as councillors will be discussing a number of proposals at a cabinet meeting later this month.”
You can sign the petition, here.