A disability charity is facing allegations of “insensitive and abusive” behaviour over the way its executives told disabled residents that they were about to close their care home because they could not afford to keep it open.
The news was broken on the same day that other executives from the same charity, Leonard Cheshire, were telling residents of a home on the other side of the country why they had spent £275,000 on a new logo and rebranding exercise.
Leonard Cheshire had sent letters inviting residents of the Greathouse home, near Chippenham, Wiltshire, to a meeting about “important changes to the service and how it will affect you”, that would take place just six days later.
But the charity failed to provide the letters in accessible formats such as large print or easy read, so some of the residents – who all have high support needs – were unable to read or understand them.
Some of their relatives did not receive letters telling them about the meeting.
Another letter, confirming the decision to close the home, was handed out after the meeting, and again was not available in accessible formats.
And when executives from the charity’s head office arrived for last week’s meeting, there were so many of them present that they created an “intimidating” atmosphere, according to one relative.
They also ignored some of the questions and comments raised by residents with communication impairments, says the relative.
The claims have been made by Sharon Bye, whose brother Chris is one of the residents and has praised the quality of the staff at Greathouse.
She subsequently made a “safeguarding” referral to the local authority, Wiltshire County Council, because she felt the way the meeting had been run was “abusive”.
Leonard Cheshire told the home’s residents last week that Greathouse would close on 27 July, partly because it could not afford the money for repairs and was finding it difficult to recruit staff.
There are believed to be 21 residents of the home, all of working-age and all wheelchair-users with high support needs.
Chris Bye said the meeting had been “awful and very badly managed. They obviously had their own agenda to push and they just didn’t listen to residents.”
He said he felt “very sad” about the closure and added: “I have lived here a long time and we are a family.”
There are now concerns that allowing just three months to find new accommodation means he and other residents could be forced into homes for older people.