The vulnerable have scant legal protection
18 elderly women – four of them over 100 years old – have been given three months’ notice to leave the care home in which they have been shielding for the past year. Despite the fact that it is unsafe for them to do so during the pandemic.
On 5th March the former Mary Feilding Guild in Haringey was bought by Highgate Care Ltd (owner Mitesh Dhanak). The Trustees of the charity that ran the Guild had been assured by Highgate Care that the home would continue to be run as a going concern. But on Monday, 8th March residents and staff were addressed by the new owner’s representative and told that the home was closing. Apparently, the facility, now called Highgate House Care Home, has been “financially unsustainable” for a long period, and the owner is considering a “number of options” for the site’s future. All residents have to leave by 31st May, on which date the gas and electricity will be cut off.
Residents are in shock and distress. Not everyone has relatives who can look for new homes on their behalf. My mother (92) has lived in the home for six years; many of her friends have been there for much longer. Some of the staff have cared for residents for decades. Having been assured by the previous owner that their jobs were safe, they are now looking for work.
Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, has written to Helen Whately, Minister for Social Care, but has yet to receive a reply. She also contacted Haringey Council who asked Mitesh Dhanak to delay the eviction. He refused.
Dhanak has a portfolio of 20 residential care homes and says this one does not “fit his business model”. It is hard to believe that anyone would want to live in a home owned by someone with such a callous attitude to his clients; it beggars belief that the Care Qualities Commission should allow him to continue to operate.
But the vulnerable have scant legal protection. During a national lockdown, a perpetrator of domestic abuse (for example) cannot be evicted from private rental sector accommodation, yet a 100-year-old elderly woman can be summarily turfed out of the home in which she has spent many years, to be separated from her friends and trusted carers.
The care sector is already in a precarious state. The case of Mary Feilding/Highgate Care highlights the shocking lack of legal protection for the elderly in our society.
I am sure fellow Barnet residents will join me in their wish to live in a society where robust laws exist to protect the vulnerable from the greedy and inhumane.