FAMILIES whose loved ones have lived happily for many years in the Kington Langley Greathouse Leonard Cheshire home have blasted its owners for their lack of care and compassion, after they were devastated to learn it is to close in just 12 weeks.

The charity told the 21 adult residents, who all have physical and learning disabilities, their families and staff they are shutting at the end of July, because of the cost of repairs needed to the Victorian building near Chippenham.

The way the meeting was conducted has infuriated families, who now face finding a new home for their vulnerable relatives.

Wesley Hunt, of Bath, whose sister Lorraine, 70, has lived there for 21 years, said: “When they broke the news last Wednesday, there were people crying and wailing. There was no compassion.

“I have questioned the director on how they have run out of money, given that the house was re-floored recently, as well as being painted and decorated.

“It is a disgrace. My sister loves it there and we are a close family. I visit Lorraine twice a week, my daughters visit her once a week and my other sister flies over from Canada to see her too. I’m concerned that wherever she is moved to will have a detrimental effect on her health, and it’s not good enough.”

Sharon Bye, from London, whose brother Chris, 57, has lived there for 12-and-a-half years, said some families missed the meeting as letters announcing it were only sent to residents, some of whom have profound learning disabilities. She said management not possessing the skills to communicate appropriately with residents was only one issue troubling her.

“The meeting left my brother and I feeling devastated and scared about the future,” she said.

“He is the most precious person to me and I will not allow his needs and wishes to be ignored or trodden over. He and all the residents of Greathouse deserve more.”

A spokesman from Leonard Cheshire said: We know the decision to close Greathouse has been an upsetting and worrying time for residents and staff. Initial meetings with all of the people affected were attended by our Regional Director, Operations Support Director and senior HR staff.

“The meeting was understandably a difficult and upsetting time for people affected, with emotions running high. On a number of occasions our staff had to request one person to ask a question at a time, as we wanted to give everyone the opportunity to have their say and for concerns to be responded to. We’re sorry if anyone else felt they did not have a chance to put their views across adequately but will be working with people on an individual basis in the coming weeks.

“Building costs, difficulties recruiting specialist staff and over reliance on agencies, as well as Commissioners increasingly unwilling to place people at Greathouse have led to the difficult decision to close the home.

“We have been in close contact with all commissioning local authorities about this decision. Timescales for closure are based on our experience of working with commissioners and partners to find alternative support for people affected and to avoid unnecessary prolonged periods of uncertainty. In the coming weeks we will continue to work intensively to support everyone at Greathouse, with tailored help available.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesperson added: “We work closely with providers and recognise the pressures and challenges they face, and we were saddened to hear that Leonard Cheshire has chosen to close this care service.

“Our immediate concern is the wellbeing of those living in the home, and ensuring they get suitable alternative accommodation and care as quickly as possible. We are working with Leonard Cheshire and our partner organisations to provide advice and support to those affected. Once alternative accommodation has been identified, residents will be supported with moves to ensure a smooth transition to their new homes.

“To help support those employees who are affected, we have spoken to Leonard Cheshire about the opportunities available in the care setting through Wiltshire Council and would strongly encourage their staff to apply. Details of these vacancies can be found on our recruitment website at http://jobs.wiltshire.gov.uk/