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Residents left in limbo after care complex in Great Cornard announces sudden plans for closure in December

An announcement surrounding the sudden closure of a residential care complex in Great Cornard has left dozens of residents facing great uncertainty, with only a month to make alternative arrangements.

Care provider Lifeways wrote to clients last week, informing them that The Dell, a facility in Cats Lane for adults with special needs, will shut in December, stating it had determined the service could not be transformed to meet best practice standards.

A letter sent to families of residents, seen by the Free Press, stated the firm feels it is “in everyone’s best interest to minimise the time of disruption” for those it supports, by completing the closure process in an expedient manner.

The Dell residential complex in Great Cornard run by Lifeways..Pic - Richard Marsham. (20911197)
The Dell residential complex in Great Cornard run by Lifeways..Pic - Richard Marsham. (20911197)

But Gwen Taylor, whose son has lived at The Dell for 19 years, said the announcement gave appalling notice to the families of the 36 affected residents, whom she said have now been “thrown into utter despair and worry”.

Her son, Mark, 40, has severe disabilities, is unable to speak and requires 24-hour care. She argued it is ridiculous for the care provider to believe a speedy closure process would be better for residents.

“This not only sounds nonsense, but will be directly opposed to the opinion of anyone who understands vulnerable people with complex needs,” said Mrs Taylor, of First Avenue, Glemsford. “They require a slow, transitional period to adapt to new people and surroundings.

“I can categorically say that my son will be frightened, confused and have a total lack of understanding of what is going on.

“I need some reassurances that he will not be moved out of the locality and he will receive the care he requires.”

Mrs Taylor has written to Babergh District Council and the MP for South Suffolk for support in the matter, adding that the timeline presented is inexcusable and needed to be addressed.

It is understood that representatives of Lifeways, which took over The Dell from the Hudson Group in 2017, are due to meet social services in Suffolk over the next couple of weeks to discuss the transition arrangements for those impacted by the closure.

Fran Winney, regional director for Lifeways, stated she is very sorry for the upset and distress the decision has caused, and pledged that she would do everything she could to make the transition as smooth as possible.

She said: “After an independent review and taking due consideration of the significant funding, property, regulatory and operational challenges, we have concluded that, despite our investment, the service cannot be transformed to meet the current standards of best practice.

“Lifeways appreciates that, while the service is long past its best, it has been home for some people for many years, and the staff have worked with dedication and care to overcome the above challenges.

“We recognise any such changes can be difficult for everybody involved. We will take very seriously our responsibilities to the people we support, their families and carers, our staff and everybody else involved.

“We take full responsibility for managing any process of closure and will do so in an orderly and structured way which minimises the impact on the people we support.”

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