Shock St Albans care home closure news takes its toll on elderly blind residents

VULNERABLE elderly and blind people are struggling to cope with the prospect of moving out of their much-loved care home when it closes in a few months time.

According to a concerned member of staff, one of the residents at St Raphael’s Care Home in St Albans is even refusing to leave her bedroom after being given the devastating news.

As exclusively revealed by the Herts Advertiser last month, the care home on Avenue Road �– which is run by Anglican blind charity St John’s Guild – is being shut on September 30 but the reason behind the closure has become increasingly unclear.

The charity initially cited red tape as the reason but – as reported in last week’s newspaper – a letter was sent out to a relative which indicates that it was a business decision taken as part of a “10-year plan” – and the officials at St John’s Guild have so far declined to clear up the matter.

The majority of the remaining 22 residents are mostly in their late 80s or 90s and some are older than 100. All but a couple are blind or partially sighted and many also suffer with hearing problems.

A member of staff, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the residents who knew about the closure were becoming increasingly angry and frustrated which was now starting to take its toll on their health and well-being.

She continued: “This is their home and they are very angry that they are being shunted out of it. They are a close-knit group and do many things together.

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“It’s not so much that they are deteriorating but they are giving up and are losing interest in things and one won’t even come out of her room. It’s getting more awful as the weeks go on now.”

A handful of residents are still unaware of the closure as their relatives fear that telling them would leave them inconsolable and feeling extremely ill.

One of those who is still oblivious to the heartbreaking news is long-standing St Albans resident Joan Swift, who is 89 years old and only recently moved to St Raphael’s from Batchwood Drive after her family persuaded her that she could not longer continue living alone.

One of her three daughters, Julia Swift, said: “She is settled and loves the staff. They are wonderful with her and really understand the needs of the blind people. We really feel that we can’t tell her it’s closing because what we fear will happen is she will just want to return home.

“We are devastated because we finally thought that mum was somewhere that she was being looked after and cared for by lovely staff.”

Julia also spoke of a man and a woman at St Raphael’s who had become such strong friends during their time at the home that they led each other everywhere.

She added: “People in that home know their way around and they are now going to have to learn all that over again somewhere else.”