Family's fury after care home dad with dementia shunted about in taxi
An elderly Alzheimer's sufferer was left distressed as he was shunted between two nursing homes in east Belfast while staff argued over who was to look after him.
Former shipyard worker David Crothers (87) has been a resident in the Four Seasons' Stormont nursing home for over a year.
He was due to be transferred to Mount Lens - another Four Seasons' nursing home - last Thursday, as the Stormont home was due for closure.
Mr Crothers - who pays over £2,000 per month to stay in the home - was put into a taxi with his belongings in black plastic bags and sent to his new nursing home at Mount Lens, where his daughter Jennifer Hoy (55) was waiting to help him settle in.
According to Jennifer, staff at Mount Lens turned her father away, saying they were not aware that Mr Crothers was being sent to them - and couldn't have taken him in anyway, because of a stomach bug outbreak at the home.
And so the frail old man and his belongings had to be taken back to the nursing home he had just been sent away from.
Ms Hoy, who lives in Dundonald, was livid at how her father had been treated.
She said she had been in touch with Four Seasons that very morning to check on her dad's move.
"I phoned the Stormont home and asked them: 'Is my Daddy definitely moving today?' and they said, 'Yes'.
"They said they had transport arranged for 2pm. I told them I would meet him at Mount Lens to settle him in," the Dundonald woman told the Belfast Telegraph.
"But when I got to the Mount Lens home, there was a notice on the door saying there was an outbreak of a winter stomach bug.
"I rapped on the window. Two girls came out, I told them who I was, and said that my father was moving in today.
"One of the girls pointed to the sign and said, 'Oh no, there's nobody moving in here today'.
"Then the manager came out, and he told me that no, my daddy was not moving in today," Mrs Hoy said.
"My daughter was with me, and she was able to ring the Stormont home, and they said he was already in a taxi with all his belongings, and that one of the staff from Stormont was travelling with him.
"The manager at Mount Lens told me he had not known that my father was to be sent to his unit today.
"But the Stormont home people contradicted this, and told me the Mount Lens people did know my father was being sent to them."
Mrs Hoy said it had been an upsetting experience for her father.
"It was very distressing for daddy," she said.
"He is 87, and he's vulnerable: anybody with Alzheimer's can't deal with all this kind of upset."
She revealed that when her father arrived back at the Stormont home, his belongings had simply been left inside the front door.
"I was disgusted. I was very worked up and upset at the thought of daddy having to move," Jennifer said.
"I've even broken out in sores with the stress of it all, trying to find him somewhere to live when the Stormont home closes."
A spokesman for Four Seasons apologised for the foul-up, blaming a "communications breakdown".
"Mr Crothers was expected to transfer from Stormont Care Home to Mount Lens, but due to a breakdown in communications Mount Lens was not expecting him on this particular day and was unable to admit him," the spokesman said.
"This was realised when he was in a taxi, but was still in the grounds of Stormont Care Home, so he did not make the journey and was returned into the home.
"However, members of his family had travelled to Mount Lens to met him there.
"We are very sorry for the inconvenience caused and a member of our senior team has contacted the family to apologise.
"We make several hundreds of transfers smoothly and we regret this exception".
Before Christmas, Four Seasons announced that it planned to close seven nursing homes in Northern Ireland.
Two have since been reprieved after a buyer was found.