Meet Eric, 91, resident of Charlton Lodge Tiverton. Eric faces an uncertain future after Councillor Stuart Barker made the decision to close Charlton Lodge, along with 19 other council-run care homes in Devon.
“I’ve been at Charlton for 6-and-a-half years. I’m lucky in that I’m still quite mobile and I’ve got my marbles. I help out around the home – a bit of gardening, a bit of dish-washing, helping lay the tables, keeping an eye on some of the other residents. It keeps me busy when I feel like it, but I can always sit in my room when I prefer a bit of peace and quiet. Charlton isn’t perfect but it could be a lot worse. There’s some lovely staff here and we always have a bit of a laugh.”
“I don’t know where I’m supposed to go when they close it down. I haven’t heard good things about other local homes – I’ve heard about inexperienced and untrained staff. You read some terrible stories in the papers about what goes on in some homes. I’m not afraid for myself – I’ve got my marbles and would soon kick off if I was treated like that. It’s some of the others who are less able that I worry about. For myself the biggest worry is being a prisoner in one of these homes. I can’t walk so much recently – my legs hurt a lot. But there’s a great bus service from outside the gate of Charlton that takes me straight into Tiverton town centre. If I was stuck somewhere with no transport it would be terrible. ”
“How am I supposed to move anyway? I’ve got lots of stuff here compared to most people. I can’t pack it up and carry it. The staff are forbidden to talk about what’s going on – it’s disgraceful. I wrote to the Daily Mirror but they didn’t reply.”
“I’m nearly 92 – I don’t want this at my time of life. They want to move a lady out from here who’s 101. Can you imagine that? It’s shocking.”
“I heard that the staff in the Cullompton home offered to take a pay cut [to help reduce running costs], but they’re not interested – they want to make millions out of selling the buildings.”
“I joined the Marines in January 1940, just after my 17th birthday, and spent five years fighting across Europe – barely came home. Sicily, France, Belgium. I was in the Mobile Naval Base Defence Organisation – anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns. I suppose I’m lucky to be alive though you didn’t think that way then – you just assumed it was the other chap who was going to get it. I ended up with 6 campaign medals. Hitler’s Final Solution included the weak and the disabled as well as the Jews. That’s what it feels like here – we’re just people in the way. If it was 1940 all over again I think I’d be a conscientious objector!”
“I’m told everyone wants to be at home now. Bullshit! That’s fine if you’re fit and able. I spent 17 years living on my own after my lovely wife Sylvia died. I managed to do everything myself for a long time, but then one day I couldn’t. I’d hate it at home now – staring at four walls and waiting for one 20-minute visit a day. Don’t tell me that old people want to be locked up at home staring at the walls.”
“When they come to take me away from here I’ll be waiting with fixed bayonet!”
Feeling brave Cllr Barker?