A WIDNES care home ordered to improve is to close.

The shock announcement was made to staff at Millbrow Care Home yesterday.

Relatives of 35 residents now face the prospect of having to find alternative accommodation for their loved ones.

Halton Council had been trying to buy the home and says it is disappointed that a decision to close has been made.

The local authority has vowed to continue to try and find an alternative to closure.

Following an internal review, owners Four Seasons Health Care blames a number of factors for the closure.

Healthdog watchdog the Care Quality Commission criticised the safety and leadership of the home in August last year.

The home had breached regulations by failing to notify the authorities about safeguarding incidents and required improvement.

Inspectors found dirty toilets and unpleasant smells of urine on their tour after only two domestic staff had struggled to clean 41 bedrooms, communal bathrooms and toilets on a five hour shift.

Care staff said they cleaned toilets whenever they could Today, Rachael Junge, regional managing director of Four Seasons Health Care, said: “The proposal to cease operating the home has not been arrived at easily and it is based on a combination of factors.

“We have had local difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff, particularly nurses, with the right level of skills.

“This has necessitated a high use of temporary agency staff and it has resulted in challenges to maintain the standards that we expect all of our homes to provide for our residents.

“We are appreciative that many of our residents and their relatives have said that they are happy with the care and support provided by our permanent care team, but we have been struggling with staffing and associated quality issues for a long while. Furthermore, the home has not been financially sustainable for some time.

“We have been in talks with Halton Council and with the landlord over recent months to try to secure the future of the home and would be prepared to hand over to an alternative operator, but no solution has been found.

“The wellbeing of residents is our priority and we will work closely with Halton Council’s Social Services team to ensure that families are supported to make appropriate care arrangements.

“Millbrow will continue to provide care while we allow plenty of time for this.”

There are 35 residents in the home which can provide care for up to 44 people.

It has 55 permanent staff and high agency staff usage.

The company is beginning a consultation process with the care team about the proposed closure.

A Halton Council spokesman said: “Yesterday Four Seasons Health Care indicated their intention to close Millbrow Care Home. They advised that it was a difficult decision based on problems recruiting and retaining staff and maintaining quality standards within the home. No date has been given for the actual closure.

“Halton Council has been working with the owners of the Millbrow to negotiate the purchase of the home and was disappointed Four Seasons took this course of action prior to this being achieved. We will continue to work closely with them to agree an alternative to closure.

"The council and Four Seasons will ensure that people are safe and cared for. We appreciate that this is a difficult time for staff, residents and families and want to reassure them all that we are working hard to resolve this to everyone’s satisfaction.”