Centenarian forced to leave St Albans care home after charity closure shock
PUBLISHED: 12:00 31 August 2010
WHEN blind and deaf 100-year-old Violet Robertson moved to specialist care home St Raphael's, her family thought she had found a warm and caring place for her to happily live out the rest of her days.
But last Thursday the former office manager suffered the trauma of leaving her much-loved home after the blind charity which runs it decided to close the facility and put the Victorian mansion in Avenue Road, St Albans, on the market.
One of Mrs Robertson’s sons, Craig Robertson, said she had settled into St Raphael’s extremely well, becoming quite content under the “exceptional” specialist care from the dedicated staff at the home run by St John’s Guild.
He continued: “We are very disappointed, she was so happy there. I’ve looked at other homes and there are none that have the sort of heart and soul that St Raphael’s had. Not that the others weren’t nice, but it really is the soul that matters and that’s what the home was about.”
Fortunately, her family managed to secure her a place at nearby Clare Lodge – but it’s a task they never wanted or thought they would ever need to do having only managed to convince her in March to leave the home in Welwyn Garden City which she had shared with her husband James until his death in 1973.
Mrs Robertson, a grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of 14, is one of 24 frail and vulnerable residents, many of whom are over 90 years old, given the bombshell news in July that the long-standing and well-loved home was to close.
All of them have struggled to find another home which meets their needs like St Raphael’s, as it was the only care home for elderly blind and deaf residents in the county.
The few residents who have yet to move out will be gone by the end of the month in advance of the deadline of September 30.
St John’s Guild originally cited problems with red tape as the reason for closure but in a letter from the charity to a relative the move was said to be part of a, “10-year business plan”.
The charity repeatedly refused to clarify the matter when asked to do so by the Herts Advertiser, which they banned from the premises.
The staff at the home have also been left devastated by the closure, having grown very fond of all the residents.
One of them said: “It has been a very distressing time for the staff who have had to cope with the distressed residents as they leave. It is criminal what St John’s Guild have put staff and residents through; we will be scarred for life with what has happened to us.
“To let them go through all this at their time of life is wicked and the Guild should bow their heads in shame but they are not.”
The member of staff also claimed that a local business came forward when the closure was announced to try and take over the home to continue running it in the same capacity but the offer was refused.
Another member of staff has written their own philosophy of St John’s Guild which slams the charity and claims that the flat adjoining the home had been fitted with a new bathroom suite for the chairperson and that the charity holds their meetings in hotels and other “nice places” which they put on expenses.