Residents devastated as nursing home to close with one week's notice
PUBLISHED: 05:30 24 September 2018 | UPDATED: 14:10 24 September 2018
The staff and residents at a Felixstowe nursing home have been left in limbo after the company suddenly went into liquidation.
The 17 people living at St Mary’s Nursing Home by the Sea would have been made homeless with immediate effect had shareholders not forked out for a seven day reprieve.
Now two residents with no families to support them are among those who are frantically searching for a new place to live before St Mary’s closes permanently on Friday, September 28.
Sheila Jayarajan, designated provider at St Mary’s Nursing Home Felixstowe Ltd., said the closure was down to the care home not operating at capacity.
In a facility with 36 beds, only 17 were occupied at the time the company went into liquidation.
“The reason that it’s closing is there was just not the demand,” Ms Jayarajan said.
“We have got 36 beds. We have only got 17 people in there, which doesn’t make a business tenable.”
Ms Jayarajan said residents at the home, which has been running for 22 years, were “riled” by the news.
“It was a horrible thing to do, she said. “I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.”
According to Ms Jayarajan, the company was forced to fold earlier this week for legal reasons.
“The decision was made by the partners and the accountant that the business was untenable,” she said. “The only legal option was to go into voluntary liquidation. It’s not a decision that was taken lightly.”
She said the situation would have been far worse had the shareholders not dipped into their own pockets to fund a short reprieve.
“The home should have actually closed that day,” she said. “So they have personally funded it for a week.”
The company is now working with Suffolk County Council to rehome the residents in time for Friday’s closure.
Ms Jayarajan said residents were given “a big list of nursing homes” to choose from, including Mill Lane in Felixstowe.
When the nursing home was set up over two decades ago, she said the intention was “to do something good for the community”.
However she claimed that in recent years “the demand from this sector” has declined, making the business unviable.
Ms Jayarajan said: “The government’s strategy to have carers at home and to initially offer nursing home placements to homes with pre-paid contracts in place, together with the acute national shortage of nurses has left the smaller homes like ours, being gradually displaced in the market.
“As a result of all these factors the directors had to come to the decision to close the home.”
A health care assistant at St Mary’s also confirmed that staff and residents were made aware of the closure with just one week’s notice.
“We were all informed yesterday,” he said. “We know that it is closing by next week.”
An anonymous source told this newspaper on Friday: “The residents have only been given a week’s notice to find somewhere else to live. Some residents don’t have any family to help them look for a new home.”
In 2016, another Felixstowe nursing home owned by the same company closed down, citing increasing challenges of providing “affordable quality care”.
The Leopold Nursing Home, in Leopold Road, had been providing care home and nursing facilities for 28 years, accommodating 36 residents.
Shareholders at St Mary’s also have connections at Witnesham Nursing Home on The Street in Ipswich, which is home to 30 residents.
Ms Jayarajan added: “We have positive and high scoring resident feedback on the service we provide, so it is extremely disappointing that with these positive factors, together with our wonderful location on the seafront that we could not further consolidate our position in this current environment at a viable level.
“Our primary concern during this time is the welfare of our staff and residents during this difficult period. And the primary focus for the care home over the next few days is to sustain its high standards of care while engaging with the residents, their families, the local health authorities, the NHS and the regulatory bodies to ensure a continuity of care for all residents of Saint Mary’s Nursing Home.
“The owners wish to thank the wonderful and long serving staff, partners in the community, our residents, their family and friends for their support in the 22 year journey. They are gratified and are proud that they have provided a ‘home from home’ for over hundreds of local people.”
Beccy Hopfensperger, cabinet member for adult care at Suffolk County Council, said: “We are very sorry to hear of the closure of St Mary’s Nursing Home in Felixstowe.
“We are working closely with the home to ensure that residents are moved with ease to their new accommodation. We met with the care home owner today, alongside a number of healthcare and social care practitioners, to agree suitable care in the future and our communication plan.
“Alongside our support for residents and their families, we are also committed to providing help and assistance to staff at this difficult time.”