Residents, and their families, at Buckmaster House retirement home in Broadstairs have been informed today (May 17) that the site is being considered for closure.
The Western Esplanade site is run the Abbeyfield charity following a merger agreement in 2018 with Buckmaster Trustees that is understood to have included a financial deal.
Abbeyfield is a charity for older people providing housing across the UK and internationally and owns over 400 houses in seven countries.
In a letter sent out following a meeting with residents and families today the charity says: “Having considered all the options available to us and the cost of work to meet requirements, we have made the difficult decision to begin consultations on the closure of Buckmaster House and a number of other homes.”
The letter says the charity has had to overcome “significant challenges” from living through an “unprecedented pandemic, the war in Ukraine causing a huge increase in energy costs, rising inflation and escalating operation costs” and “a nationwide workforce shortage.”
The charity says that following a review it has “identified some properties” that can no longer be “operated sustainably.”
The letter says no firm decision on closure will be made until the consultation has been completed and if the decision is to shut residents will be helped to find a new home.
One family member said: “Elderly vulnerable people who thought they were in a safe haven have been left to flounder.”
Buckmaster House has 21 en-suite rooms and it is understood that 14 of those are currently occupied.
The property was built in 1895, commissioned by Jane Buckmaster in memory of her husband Thomas Buckmaster, a Savile Row tailor in London.
The house was originally set up as a place for women in the Brixton area to stay for convalescence or come for a holiday. Over the years, the house has been restored and modernised to provide accommodation for people of retirement age.
An Abbeyfield spokesperson said: “As a responsible housing and care provider, we conduct periodic reviews of all of our homes to make sure they remain suitable for residents.
“We recently completed the latest review of all of our homes as part of making a clear plan for the future of the organisation and each of our homes. These reviews considered how our properties can keep pace with the changing needs, tastes and expectations of older people, the investment required to bring them up to modern standards and whether they are able to meet new regulatory and energy efficiency requirements.
“We also needed to reflect how the past few difficult years have impacted the organisation’s finances, particularly the impact of the Covid pandemic, the huge increase in energy prices, rising inflation, and rapidly increasing operating costs.
“Having fully considered the findings of this review, it is with regret that we have made the difficult decision to begin consulting on the closure of Buckmaster House. Everybody taking part in the consultation process will have the opportunity to share their thoughts, ideas and any proposals they may have before a final decision is made.
“We fully acknowledge the impact that this consultation, and any potential outcomes, will have on our residents and colleagues in particular, and we will be doing everything we can to support and assist them through this difficult process.”
An advice/consultation line has been opened, Monday-Friday 8.30am-7pm, Saturday 9am-5pm and Sunday 9am-2pm on 0808 196 3705.