Families and residents devastated by shock news of St Albans care home closure

Stuart House care home

Stuart House care home - Credit: Archant

The owner of a care home in St Albans has said his decision to close it in February “has not been taken lightly”.

Stuart House care home

Stuart House care home - Credit: Archant

Families and residents were shocked to learn of the proposed closure when Fraser Presence, owner of the Stuart House care home in St Albans, sent letters out last Tuesday (12).

The letter said: “It is with much great regret that I’m writing to inform you of the sad decision we have unfortunately had to make; it is one that we have not made lightly.

“The decision is to cease providing a care service at Stuart House. This is primarily an economic decision based on how our service has been affected.”

Fraser, whose father started the care home in 1983, told the Herts Ad: “It has been a grave concern for me for some time that we have an enormous number of vacancies.

Stuart House care home

Stuart House care home - Credit: Archant

“A lot of blood, sweat and tears from me and my father have gone into this place over the years.”

The rise of new, bigger care homes in the area combined with the publication of a critical CQC report last week has contributed to the downfall of Stuart House, according to Fraser.

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He said: “In recent months, we have started to make slight loss, Overall, I believe it is a well run home and we have a good reputation, but it is harder and harder for smaller homes to keep up with the stricter guidelines.”

The CQC report found that staff had been using eye-drops which were out of date, had little knowledge of how to support people with dementia and that there was no formal register of accidents or falls.

But the report said that residents were pleased with the level of service and had excellent relationships with the staff.

Anne Gray, who regularly visits a relative at Stuart House, said she was “devastated” at the news.

“I have asked if they were planning to have any sort of meeting, like a funeral,” she said. “Because all these people, they’re like a family.

“They grouch at each other but that’s what families do. To just close it down, we’ll need a chance to say goodbye to each other – I know all the carers and all the residents.

“It is just like coming into a big family and saying, ‘right, off you all go’.”

Anne, 73, said that although she was shocked to hear about the CQC report, “anybody that visits there will say that it requires improvement”.

She added: “I suspect that in time we may find somewhere just as good or somewhere that may even, in fact, be better. It’s the upheaval that’s difficult.”

Stuart House is due to close on Friday, February 12, at the latest, although it will close sooner if residents are able to find other accommodation sooner.