A YORK pensioner is facing a five hour round journey to the coast each time he wants to visit his sick wife, after a care home near York suddenly decided it could no longer look after her.

Malcolm Lee says he received a phone call ‘out of the blue’ last month to tell him his wife Iris, 73, who has dementia and is blind, was being transferred from St Catherine’s Care Home at Shipton by Beningbrough to a home in Scarborough.

He said he was told that no home in the York area was able to accommodate her and Beechwood Nursing Home in Scarborough was the nearest available.

He said that to make his usual twice weekly visit to Iris, he now faced a 20-minute walk from his home in The Groves to Stonebow to catch a Coastliner bus, which took an hour and 45 minutes to get to Scarborough.

Then he faced another 20 minute walk to the home, high up above the cliffs in the resort’s South Bay. After his visit, he faced the same journey in reverse.

“It’s not too bad at the moment but it might be difficult in winter, with snow and ice and rain,” he said.

York Press: Malcolm Lee, pictured near his home in The Groves, from where he faces a five-hour round journey to visit his wife in a Scarborough care home  Picture: Mike Laycock

“I could get there quicker by train but I can’t use my bus pass for that, but I can use it to go on the Coastliner.

“I don’t want to cause a stink but it would be wonderful if they could find a home that was at least a bit closer to York.”

Mr Lee, 73, contacted The Press after it reported how some of the residents at St Catherine’s care home had been given just days to leave after it was hit by the “unprecedented staffing crisis” sweeping the country’s care sector.

Wellburn Care Homes Ltd said it had to act “swiftly and decisively” when it became unable to continue providing specialist nursing care, and it worked alongside local authority colleagues to find alternative accommodation for everyone requiring this.

It said a “perfect storm” of prolonged challenging environments throughout the pandemic and compulsory vaccinations for all care home staff were not only driving existing staff away from the sector, but causing huge issues in attracting new candidates.

A spokeswoman for the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group said yesterday that it understood the vital importance of adult social care to residents and, with North Yorkshire County Council, it was ‘pulling out all the stops’ to support the sector during current challenges to keep people safe.

She said that across North Yorkshire, 20,000 people worked in the care sector and over 13,000 of these were care and support workers, across 500 organisations providing services.

“On any given day across the county there are at least 1,000 jobs available,” she said. “Never has the need for people to work in care been so great, yet applications for care jobs are 70 per cent lower than they were only a few months ago.

“These acute staffing shortages mean providers are handing back packages of care and local authority staff are going above and beyond to meet people’s needs and keep them safe.”

York Press: Malcom and Iris Lee, pictured before she developed dementia and blindness

She said the CCG and its local authority partners must respect user confidentiality and therefore could not comment on individual cases.

“However, to address the concerns, the CCG and its partners at the county council are in direct contact with Mr Lee.”