A care home in Forest Hill is set to close after 28 years because of financial problems.  

Excelcare, the company which runs Castlebar Care Home in Sydenham Hill, shared the news with families and residents on March 17. The home is set to close on April 30.  

Just last year (July 2020) the care home was granted planning permission to build a two-storey extension to provide more bedrooms for residents.

The care home, which offers respite, residential, dementia, nursing, and end of life care, was struggling financially before Covid-19, an Excelcare spokesperson said.

But the decision on its closure was postponed to “safeguard the residents during an unprecedented pandemic”. 

There are 40 people living in Castlebar, the majority of whom are funded by Lewisham (18). Eleven are privately funded, six are funded by Lambeth, three by Southwark, and two by non-London Councils. 

The spokesperson said it was a difficult decision to close the home, but said there is not enough funding available for the “struggling elderly care sector”. 

The Victorian building also needs a “complete refurbishment” to bring it up to today’s standards, they said, which would increase finanical losses.

According to Excelcare: “We truly understand the anxiety family members feel around their loved ones needing to move home and we empathise with everyone, and our CEO extended a personal invitation to each family to meet with him, to give his assurances of our continued commitment during the closure process.

“Pre-Covid the home was struggling financially but the decision to close was delayed, to safeguard the residents during an unprecedented pandemic.  

“It was also hoped that the struggling elderly care sector would be recognised, following years of cuts to council budgets, the increasing needs of older people and constant cost pressures – predominantly suitably skilled staffing and increases to the national minimum wage and insurance premiums.

“Whilst the government have provided infection control funding to support care homes during Covid, this has only masked the true problem and this funding was and has been used to support reducing the rate of transmission.

“Local authority funding does not reflect the true costs of running a care home and therefore many care homes rely on a percentage of their beds being taken up by self-funders but at Castlebar we have seen a falling number for a considerable time. 

“We are committed to delivering high quality-care whilst ensuring independence, dignity, and choice in every aspect of daily life.  

“We also believe that the environment we live in has a significant impact on our happiness and well-being. 

“Considering this, we recognise that the Castlebar building needs a complete refurbishment to bring it up to today’s standards including adding en-suites which would result in a loss of bedrooms, which would increase the financial losses, leaving the home unviable and unsustainable.

“We recognise that moving home at any time of life is often stressful, but we have added extra resources through a dedicated team focused on ensuring everyone receives our full support, whilst also feeling involved throughout this difficult time.” 

Lewisham Council is working with the care home to help residents move to alternative homes. 

Castlebar does not intend to make any team members redundant.

“This has been relayed to them in meetings whereby we have advised that we will be looking to redeploy their much-needed skillset in our purpose-built homes in London.

“We are saddened at the closure, and appreciate the heartfelt messages received following the announcement, from families thanking us for the care that we have provided over the years and wish to assure each of them that we will continue to provide this until their loved one is settled in a new home,” the Excelcare spokesperson said.