Holehird staff asked to do manual work by Leonard Cheshire

STAFF who worked at Holehird care home have expressed their anger and frustration at the closure of the home.

They described having to remove furnishings and archive personal belongings, which they had previously been told the company would employ contractors for.

The Westmorland Gazette spoke to a support worker that worked at the home.

She said: “We were first told about the closure in the first week in April.

“From the point we were first told, I wasn’t under the impression it would be saved.

“However, when Tim Farron got involved I had hope that it would get taken over as he has saved it once before.

“As the months carried on nothing was really being done about it.

“Holehird was everything to me. I was only there for a year but it made a big positive impact in my life. The residents have inspired me to never take anything in life for granted and to live life to fullest.  It was extremely rewarding every day to care for the residents and engage with them and get to know their personalities and what kind of people they were.

“The staff had a massive impact on me as I felt we were all one family who looked out for each other and were there for one another when the going got tough.

“We built a strong bond together with the residents and that will never been replicated anywhere.

“It’s saved me in more ways than anyone can imagine. This is has been the best job I’ve ever had and it gave me a purpose of being able to help and care for people.

“It was heartbreaking to go through and I was angry about it because everyone cared so much about the residents. I am really sad about it but I’ve accepted it as there’s nothing I can do about it.  I just know I’ve got to be strong about it and I’ll always cherish the memories I’ve made.

“The activity staff used to organise themed costume days where the staff and residents got dressed up for 80s day, Halloween, Wild West Day and Christmas. Christmas Day was special as every resident got a present from the home and we helped them open presents from their families.

“We had table tennis tournaments; the residents cheered us all on.  Water fights, day trips to Blackpool and meals out when we were able after restrictions were lifted.”

“I will miss it so much but I am moving on to the next stage in my life.  Holehird will still have a massive space in my heart.”

Another worker at the home spoke about how they had been told that the company would employ professional contractors to remove furnishings and return the home to a state in which they could hand it back to the Lakes Trust, who they lease it from.

But as soon as the residents had moved out, they were told it would fall to them.

They said: “When Leonard Cheshire had told us about the closure we were also told that after September they would be getting contractors in to remove the contents of the home.

“Unfortunately this wasn’t true and we, as support workers, were tasked with making sure we archived old documents and removed furnishings from residents rooms, which was heartbreaking.”

He had similar experiences of the closure announcement.

“I heard about the closure back in April, it came as a complete shock and for a good while I was in denial that the home was going to close.

“Leonard Cheshire had said that they had no plans to help search for a new provider.  A couple months later we got told a new provider could potentially be interested and had us all keeping our hopes up.

“Around eight weeks after telling us that, we were then told that the new provider wasn’t taking over and that Leonard Cheshire would be closing no matter what.

“I’ve had to find a new job and a home to live in.

“I am still angry and sad that the home has closed, even though I have found a new job.  Holehird was where I felt at home and the staff became my family.

“I think that they should have told us way before they initially did so that more time to find a new provider was available. A petition was made but it was something that Leonard Cheshire still ignored. I believe they told us late on so that we couldn’t find an alternate provider.

“Holehird itself was like no other care home. The staff were a massive family who constantly supported each other through good and bad times. The care we gave to the residents was second to none and we truly looked after them as if they were our own family.

“The entire experience of working there had been outstanding and something that I am forever greatful having been able to be a part of.”

Despite spirited campaigns from MP Tim Farron and the community-at-large, Leonard Cheshire, the charity in charge of providing care at Holehird care home, has officially shut the home down.

A spokesman for Leonard Cheshire, on the closure of the home, said: “We continued to engage with SGH [St Gregory’s Healthcare] to support their potential interest in Holehird.  It would have been grossly unfair to keep stopping and starting a redundancy process. This would have caused further uncertainty and anxiety for staff about their futures, as well as people living at Holehird. We understand no submission for a lease was ultimately made.”

The Westmorland Gazette | News