Concerns over deaths of elderly

Gill Ferguson outside Heanors Florence Shipley home.
Gill Ferguson outside Heanors Florence Shipley home.

Six of the 25 residents of the former Florence Shipley Nursing Home in Heanor have died since they were moved out just before Christmas.

Plans to replace the elderly facility on the Market Place with a 32-bed super care centre were finalised in September last year - and its residents moved to other care homes across the county in December.

But the number of deaths figures have sparked fears that the relocation of elderly residents is not the right thing to do.

Gill Ferguson, 66, whose campaign to keep Derbyshire care homes open has gathered 7,000 names on a petition, believes the stress of moving to a new facility might have contributed to the deaths.

Her claim has been refuted by Derbyshire County Council this week, with a spokesman saying every care was taken when moving the residents.

Mrs Ferguson said: “I’m not an expert on death in the elderly years, but I do know that it’s been proven in all sorts of literature that if you move elderly people it can have a detrimental impact.

“At best it could be a bit of a set back - but it’s more likely to be more permanent.”

Mrs Ferguson started her campaign in February, 2012, after the county council’s previous Tory administration announced plans to axe 20 care homes across the county.

Her mother Joyce Wood, 92, lives at Beechcroft Care Home in West Hallam, which has since been saved from closure after fight.

Mrs Ferguson believes the Florence Shipley residents should not have been moved before a new facility was built to accommodate them.

“Why couldn’t they have built somewhere new and then moved the staff and the residents altogether into a new place?” She said.

“If you look at the research, when the staff and residents are moved together, the older people stand a better.

She added: “The building they are in doesn’t matter as much as,‘staff are like family to some residents, especially those who have no family of their own.”

The former Market Place care home currently stands empty.

This week the county council says the death of six of its former inhabitants would be in line with usual care home mortality rates.

A spokesman said: “We are well aware of the issues associated with moving older people living in residential homes, which is why we follow a very specific, tried and tested course of action which is sensitive and carefully planned at every stage.

“Residents and relatives are consulted every step of the way and we do this at their own pace, helping and supporting them before, during and after any move.

“The average length of stay in a residential home in Derbyshire is around two and a half years, and the group that moved from Florence Shipley had, on average, had been there for three and a half years.”

But some research, including that by lawyer Yvonne Hossack, who has been attributed with saving 80 care home across England from closure, suggests the ‘involuntary transfer’ of care home residents can lead to health problems - and even death.

Are you a family member of one of the former Florence Shipley residents? Get in touch at news@rhnews.co.uk.