The family of a 102-year-old woman were told she was about to become homeless just hours before the care home she lived at closed down.
Betty Heath was one of many residents at The Royal Bay Residential Care Home, which shut down last week, leaving her feeling 'anxious and confused'.
Betty Heath's family were given just hours to find her a new place to live. Credit: SWNS
Families of residents were given just hours to pack bags and find alternative arrangements after they were warned the home might be closing.
Sandra Jacobs, Betty's daughter, was called up by a social worker last Wednesday and told there might be a problem with the care home. She was told to come and visit the home, based in Aldwick, West Sussex, on Friday.
After arriving and meeting the families of other residents, 73-year-old Sandra was told there was a possibility the home might be closing down in the future.
However, just hours later she was given the shocking news that she should come and pack up her mum's belongings and 'get her out immediately'.
Retired Sandra, who lives in Slough in Berkshire, said: "We got there just after 10am and they said they wanted to discuss what was happening with the care home.
"They said they wanted to make us aware of a problem there and that it may close down, but they did not know what was happening yet.
Betty Heath had been a resident at the care home which closed last week. Credit: SWNS
"When I asked the social worker, she said, 'I can guarantee this place is not going to shut,' and I believed her.
"I said, 'In that case, could my mother have a bigger room?' and she said, 'That can absolutely be arranged.' I didn't think there was any urgency.
"None of us wanted to move our parents because we all knew they would be confused and anxious."
She added that her mum was only just getting used to her routine after being 'knocked for six' by an infection that left her hospitalised - and then had to deal with the blow of finding somewhere new to live.
Residents who had council-funded places in the home were moved out via ambulance on Thursday, but families who were self-funded didn't find out until the following day that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had ordered the home to be closed down after an inspection report found residents were 'at risk'.
Sandra added: "I remember it was getting dark - people were panicking and it became quite chaotic.
"When we explained to my mum, she was quite distressed and she couldn't understand why she had to leave - she said, 'This is my home, I'm 102.'
Royal Bay Residential Care Home closed last week. Credit: SWNS
"It's very upsetting. When we were packing up her things, she was just sitting in the hallway looking confused and we had to put all her bags and belongings into the car.
"She was literally out on the street and we had no time to find another suitable home."
The CQC said residents should be removed from the home 'in a planned way, carried out as thoughtfully and sensitively as possible'. However, Sandra says this was not the case and that families weren't given enough time to find a new home.
"On Friday, we found a couple of homes nearby," she said. "But one was taken by somebody else and the other one was awful.
"She could not stay with family because there would be nobody at home to look after her.
"I know there was a report and they gave the care home time to improve but they shouldn't throw people out onto the streets - we had nothing.
"I think it's really bad, the CQC's procedures. They talk about the procedures of the home, what about their procedures?
"They just gave you an hour's notice to say 'yes, your mother's got to move'."
Thankfully, Sandra was able to secure a new place for her mum and she's now staying in assisted living accommodation, with the family planning to eventually move Betty back to the home she owns and hiring carers to come out four times a day to help with cooking and cleaning.
According to the CQC inspection from December 2018, The Royal Bay Residential Care Home needed to improve responsiveness, care and leadership of its service.
A 2017 report also states that the home had failed to report the deaths of eight people to the commission, which it was required to do.
Meanwhile, a report from last June found there was no manager at the home and that 'risks associated with people's safety were not always identified and managed appropriately'.
In a statement issued at the time of the care home's closure, Deborah Ivanova, deputy chief inspector of adult social care for the CQC in the south, said: "As a result of this latest inspection, we had no choice but to use our urgent enforcement powers to protect the people who were still living at Royal Bay Residential Home.
"Over the last year we have found there has been a significant deterioration in the care provided, but to date the action of the provider has been ineffective. We have no confidence that that the provider will take appropriate action - and we can't leave people at risk of harm.
"We appreciate that this will be a difficult time for everyone involved but our first priority is always the welfare of the people who are living in care services. We will continue to work closely with West Sussex County Council, who are supporting the people living in Royal Bay Residential home and their families to find new services that meet their needs.
"All moves must be done in a planned way and carried out as thoughtfully and sensitively as possible."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS