County council U-turn allows Eileen, 105, to stay in the home she loves

Eileen Smith celebrates her 105th birthday at Avondale Care Home in Aylesbury last year with TV presenter Angela Rippon
Eileen Smith celebrates her 105th birthday at Avondale Care Home in Aylesbury last year with TV presenter Angela Rippon

A 105-year-old grandmother who faced being evicted from her care home after money from the sale of her home used to pay the fees dried up won an 11th hour reprieve this week.

Eileen Smith turns 106 on Saturday, and loves living at the Avondale Care Home in Aylesbury.

She moved to the £5,200 a month facility three years ago, after a hospital stay following a fall at her Bedgrove family home.

Her house was sold to pay for the fees, but that money will run out at the end of this month, and Bucks County Council was reluctant to pay for her to continue to stay at Avondale.

The authority suggested two cheaper homes, but Eileen and her family were worried that the upheaval of the move would be detrimental to the former chocolate factory worker’s health.

However on Tuesday, the council changed its mind and informed the family Eileen can stay after all.

Earlier in the week her son John, and daughter-in-law, Barbara, contacted The Bucks Herald in desperation, afraid that despite the support of care home bosses to solve the problem, Eileen would still have to leave because of council rules.

Her daughter-in-law, Barbara, 74 who is married for Eileen’s son John, 75, said at the time: “We are worried to death, we’ve been warning the council about this for months now and they have waited until the last minute.

“She is 106 on Saturday and the staff at the home asked what we would like to do to celebrate but we just can’t think about anything like that, if we had to move her we are worried that we would be saying goodbye, and she wouldn’t cope very well with the change of environment.

“Avondale have been brilliant and the manager is doing all that he can to help us, the council has asked if we can pay but we are retired too.

“We picked this home because we didn’t want her to be somewhere that we would not like to live.

“It was her money from the sale of the house and we wanted the best for her.

“We are worried sick,” Barbara told us on Monday.

Eileen was born in London in 1910 and and before she married she worked at an electrical company winding transformers, and at a chocolate factory.

In 1932 she married Charles, and raised John, and his elder brother Maurice (now 82) during the Second World War while her husband served in the army.

In 1960 the family moved to Buckinghamshire, first settling in Great Kimble, and later moving to Bedgrove.

John said: “They always worked and they bought their own house which they really wanted to pass on to their children.

“Obviously it hasn’t come to that, and if she did have to move she would be resigned to it, but we really are pinning our hopes on the council being able to do something to help.”

And on Saturday, staff at Avondale are organising a special celebration for Eileen’s birthday, which will now carry added significance.

Last year the home organised for TV star Angela Rippon to pay Eileen a visit, and she received a card from The Queen.

Barbara said: “She loves the home and knows all of the people there. She is very settled and happy.”

The day after contacting The Bucks Herald, the county council confirmed that Eileen would not have to leave the home.

Barbara added: “We are so happy the council made this decision and very grateful.”

A statement from Bucks County Council read: “The council has a duty to meet an individual’s eligible social care needs with the most cost-effective option available.

“This may include a range of choices and the individual and/or family may top up the available resource to have a wider choice such as a selected care home.

It added: “The council endeavours to make decisions in these cases as soon as possible, though the length of time to complete the assessment and decision making processes can vary depending on the individual case.”