Health and social care initiative at Lehmann House, Wickham Market, will give families ‘peace of mind’

Lehmann House, Wickham Market

Lehmann House, Wickham Market - Credit: Archant

People are invited to learn more about an innovative new health and social care scheme in Suffolk this week.

Project leaders meet to discuss plans for Lehmann House, l-r, Bryan Hall,Teri Garwood, Sunny Sandhu,

Project leaders meet to discuss plans for Lehmann House, l-r, Bryan Hall,Teri Garwood, Sunny Sandhu,Pam Bell and Colin Owens. - Credit: Archant

Project leaders behind the new development at Lehmann House in Wickham Market are hosting an information and engagement event on Thursday when members of the public can discuss plans and learn about job opportunities.

The scheme will see the former care home redeveloped by De Vere Care, a private company, which is working with community leaders as well as the public and voluntary sectors, to enhance the region’s care offer. De Vere’s managing director Sunny Sandhu said the public-private partnership was the first of its kind.

“We’ve never done anything like this before,” he added. “This is a new model integrating health and social care organisations and we hope it can serve as a template for other schemes to follow.”

De Vere will operate a 34-bed care home, specialising in reablement and respite care for patients who are well enough to leave hospital but not yet ready to return home. It is hoped to ease pressures on hospitals, which are increasingly facing problems with “bed-blocking” when patients, often older people, cannot be discharged at the appropriate time because of a lack of community support.

The company is also offering part of the new centre free-of-charge for other health and social care organisations to use.

The “community hub” is expected to feature space for district nurses, social workers and other health professional to work from, as well as a new social club.

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Members of the Wickham Market community have been working behind the scenes to find a new use for Lehmann House, ever since news of its closure emerged last year.

Pam Bell, who worked for the NHS for more than 40 years and has led initiatives in the village such as the Wickham Market Family Carers scheme, has been one of its key drivers. She said she is particularly pleased with the respite it will be able to offer family carers.

“The question in family carers’ minds is often ‘what would happen to mum or dad if I became ill and had to go to hospital – who would look after them then?’, she said.

“With this new centre, they no longer need to worry, they can have peace of mind.”

Bryan Hall, who used to represent Wickham Market at Suffolk Coastal District Council, has also been working on the project, which he says is a “really important development for the village”.

The project is said to have received the backing of health and social care chiefs across the county, as well as charities such as Age UK and Suffolk Family Carers.

The information and engagement event takes place in Wickham Market Village Hall on Thursday from 10.30am-2pm.