Care staff defy gagging order to air concern over Halmer Grange closure

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HEARTBROKEN staff at a care home in Spalding have broken a gagging order to hit out at council plans to shut it down.

Carers at Halmer Grange were told that expressing their views publicly could ‘reflect a lack of integrity that could damage public confidence in the council’.

But six members of staff, who we have agreed not to name, say they want the public to know they are “still fighting” to save what they say is one of the best care homes in the area.

One member of staff said: “We have exit questionnaires where people put what they think and they are amazing - the nice things people say.

“We had one person cling to the door frame because they did not want to leave. How many care homes get that? I had certainly never heard of it before.”

The care home on Grange Drive currently employs about 40 staff and has 22 beds.

Council bosses announced two weeks ago that it would close under county-wide plans for reforms in care, leaving services to be picked up by the private and voluntary sectors.

Staff say some people heard about the decision on the local news.

Morale is described as “low”.

“Of course we are worried about our jobs but we are not speaking out for that reason,” explained one staff member.

“We care about the people who come to Halmer Grange. We want the public to know we are fighting to keep the home open.”

Staff highlighted high standards in training and the quality of care as setting them aside from other homes.

“The council says it is committed to helping people live in their own homes for longer and that is what Halmer Grange is all about,” said a worker.

“It’s about boosting their confidence so they can go home.”

The carers say a move for visitors like dementia sufferers, who have become familiar with staff, would have an “upsetting” effect.

“The people who have been going there for years, what are they going to do? It puts such a strain on them,” they said.

They say visitors are not bothered about plans to “modernise” facilities and it is the standard of care that matters the most.

Another staff member said they had concerns that standards may slip if the home was run privately.

Staff claim they have also been barred from publicising good news and initiatives from the home in recent months.

A guidance notice on consultation processes has been displayed in the home advising staff it is inappropriate to petition against the closure of the home. It states ff they do so, it could breach disciplinary rules.

Recent initiatives have included a 1950s room, which has been filled with nostalgia items to help dementia patients. Workers say nominations in the Great East Midlands Care Awards in categories for best manager, best care worker and best home also went unnoticed.

Staff say they have no idea what will happen to them in the future or when the home is likely to close.

One staff member added: “I hope when the fat cats at the council need care they get to go to somewhere like Halmer Grange.”