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Shock as nursing home's contract terminated just weeks before Christmas

The Lehmann House nursing home was extensively refurbished Picture: GREGG BROWN

The Lehmann House nursing home was extensively refurbished Picture: GREGG BROWN

People living at a Wickham Market nursing home are being moved out just weeks before Christmas after the county council terminated its contract, it has emerged.

Bosses at Suffolk County Council (SCC) say they have "no confidence" that the provider of services at Lehmann House has taken appropriate steps to improve. They have made the decision for the "safety and wellbeing" of residents.

The home, taken over by DeVere Care Ltd alongside SCC in 2017, has had a "turbulent" few years, the provider said.

It was placed in special measures in 2018 and lifted out again in February of this year, earning a rating of 'requires improvement'.

MORE: Anger as closing residential care home gives 24 residents just weeks to find a new home

Now, the council has decided to terminate its contract with the home - which means 10 residents under SCC's care will be moved by early December.

Despite this, DeVere Care bosses say they have no plans to close the service.

There are also five private residents, of which one has also decided to move - leaving just four living at the nursing home.

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk  Picture: GREGG BROWNAndy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk Picture: GREGG BROWN

It has also been prevented from admitting new private patients.

Daughter 'saddened' at situation

Helen Turner, whose mother is one of the remaining four, said: "I feel saddened, particularly for all the 15 residents, especially those who have been moved, and so close to the Christmas period as well. I want to say that staff at the home have been brilliant with my mother, the place is clean, new, they spent a lot of money on it."

However, she did raise concerns about her mother's future and others in the home, adding: "From a business point of view if they can't admit new residents, I do worry for the future."

'No confidence'

Sue Cook, executive director for people services at SCC, said services at Lehmann House have never consistently been at the required standard, adding: "The council has no confidence that the provider has taken the appropriate action required to make sustainable improvements, therefore for the safety and wellbeing of residents the council has taken the decision to terminate the contract.

"The council understands that this is a difficult time for residents, families and staff employed at the home and is working with residents and their families on an individual basis to find the most suitable alternative accommodation."

'No intention to close'

A spokeswoman for DeVere Care added: "It has been a turbulent journey with lots of highs and lows, and changes in management," she said.

"It does take time to establish, the building was dilapidated when we inherited it and we refurbished it for a period of 10 to 12 months.

"DeVere Care Ltd recognises that there have been problems with the management structure internally and with recruitment.

The spokeswoman added: "From our perspective, even though we are unable to accept private residents, we have no intention of closing.

"We still have four residents living with us. Last Monday SCC served us with a notice to terminate the contract. We had 15 residents at the home and SCC has begun the process of withdrawing people under their care. "One private patient has decided to move but there are still four people with us."

Representatives for the Care Quality Commission added: "CQC inspected Lehmann House on November 5 and 7. A report, detailing our findings, will be published soon. Legal processes prevent us from going into further details at this time."

Have your say

Healthwatch Suffolk is conducting a survey on people's experiences of care homes across the county to get a better picture of the challenges the sector faces in the future.

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, said: "We cannot comment about the business viability of the care home market because we simply don't know to what extent running a care home is still possible nowadays.

"There is still a mix of large companies and single home providers out there, and Suffolk has overall experienced a gradual rise in the quality of care, according to CQC, over the past few years.

"We may find that our current large scale care homes project may reveal some of the stresses and strains that the provider market is facing, and we're referring to the 'professionals' survey we will be instigating in January."

Have your say on the Healthwatch Suffolk website.

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