AN Oxford Care home which left vulnerable residents without access to the outdoors for weeks on end when its only lift broke down has once again been blasted by relatives over continuing care concerns.

Despite a new lift having been installed at The Headington Care Home, residents are still being denied easy access to the ground floor with the new lift being too small to accommodate specialist wheelchairs which a number of people there rely on, according to relatives.

Further concerns have also been raised over the declining quality of care at the £1,000-a-week home run by Four Seasons Health Care, which this week revealed it had called in administrators to handle the sale of the company.

John Evans, 60, has accused bosses of only doing the ‘bare minimum’ for his wife, who was admitted to the home nearly seven years ago with dementia, and claimed bosses had carried out a ‘cheap and botched job’ of replacing the lift.

Oxford Mail:

The company director from Shiplake said the new lift had made things more difficult for his wife, who now must be hoisted into a less-suitable wheelchair in order to be taken outside.

He said: “My wife can’t speak and can’t walk, but I go there every day and take her out, even if it’s just to get her out into the garden for a change of scenery.

“It’s heartbreaking: the fact I can’t take her out unless she is hoisted from her chair into another chair just to go into the garden is unbelievable.

“The whole point of getting the special chair was because it offers her more support and she could stay in it all day without it doing any harm - and there are two other residents who have these chairs."

The new lift, according to Mr Evans, also poses a health and safety risk as it does not leave any space for manoeuvre when occupied by a wheelchair and can only be operated by ‘holding the button down’ - leaving him unable to assist his wife if she were to suffer a fit while in the lift.

Bosses had previously been accused of ‘violating residents’ human rights’

when the only lift malfunctioned during last summer’s heatwave, leaving some people ‘stranded and isolated’ during the sweltering conditions.

The home, which has 52 beds on the ground floor and eight beds on the first floor, is currently rated ‘Good’ by the Care Quality Commission.

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A Four Seasons spokesman said the home had taken ‘extensive measures’ to ensure every resident has access to the ground floor.

They added: “This includes modifying the lift internally to create more space and transporting residents from specialist wheelchairs to standard wheelchairs so that they may use the lift, such as in the case of this resident.

“There is no impediment to this resident accessing the ground floor and we have worked at length with her family to ensure they are aware of the options open to her, including continued daily transfer by staff to the ground floor for family visits and the repeated offer of permanent accommodation on the ground floor.”

Also read: Four Seasons which runs six Oxfordshire care homes calls in administrators

Oxfordshire County Council, which uses the home as part of its adult social services, said it had recently been made aware of the installation of the new lift and had been to the home to review the installation.

Four Seasons, which runs 322 homes in the UK, called in professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal as administrators this week, with debts in excess of £500m.

However, care bosses insisted the administration would not prompt any change for residents, families or employees.

Mr Evans said it was no surprise the company had collapsed with care standards, in his view, having fallen over the seven years his wife has been resident there, pointing to inadequate staffing and poor food, as well as the problems with the lift.

And, while admitting the news was ‘undoubtedly a concern’, Mr Evans said it could provide the opportunity for ‘a white knight buyer’ to ‘take over the home, put in experienced management and staff and equip the home properly’.

The firm's collapse is the biggest failure in the care home sector since since Southern Cross collapsed in 2011.

Addressing the news, Oxfordshire County Council spokesman said: “There are six homes in Oxfordshire within the Four Seasons Health Care Group, one of which is the Headington Care Home.

“The six homes are registered to support 250 people.

“We would like to reassure people living within these homes, and their families, that we will be working to ensure their care and support continues as normal, providing information and advice where appropriate.

“The homes are running as business as usual and the council continues to make placements with the homes.”