The afternoon started with a party to mark the retirement of a member of staff with over 30 years of service – complete with balloons, cake and dancing.
But the party atmosphere at Thackeray Place Residential Home was destroyed when bosses from Western Health & Social Care Trust dropped the bombshell that the facility will close in just over 12 months.
The news was so distressing that a doctor was called to attend to one resident who was left upset at the thought of having to leave her home.
Now staff at the facility have defied an order from the Trust telling them not to speak to the media and have issued a statement describing the overwhelming devastation at the planned closure.
They have expressed horror at the attitude of the Trust – which denies a final decision has been made over the future of its residential homes ahead of a board meeting to discuss the matter this morning.
But employees of the facility said they were given a timetable for closing the facility during a meeting with Trust officials, including Alan Corry-Finn, executive director of nursing and director of primary care older people services, on Tuesday evening.
A staff spokeswoman said: "An emergency meeting was called with 24 hours notice and we were told Mr Corry-Finn was putting forward a proposal to the Trust board to close Thackeray Residential Home and after a 16-week consultation process the home will close within one year from September 2013.
"Staff act as advocates for the elderly residents and we tried to fight our case but our efforts were shot down.
"At one stage Mr Corry-Finn described the home as an institution and this caused uproar. For the top boys in the Trust to come down and call it that was unbelievable. At all times staff go beyond the call of duty. Many of the residents at Thackeray have been here for more than 10 years, it is their home.
"We agree with Transforming Your Care and there needs to be vast changes to make provision for the care of the growing population of elderly people in Northern Ireland but it is vital these changes are made before closing statutory residential homes.
"They weren't able to give any assurances there won't be any compulsory redundancies for staff. Thackeray is an integral part of the community. Let battle commence to save our home," she said.