Shock at decision to close Shannagh Nursing Home in Belleek
Calls have been made for the Western Health Trust to step in and prevent the closure of a private care home.
Shannagh Nursing Home in Belleek, Co Fermanagh, is expected to close within weeks after the business was deemed no longer financially sustainable.
The owner Hugh Tunney said he was "devastated" by developments, which will lead to the loss of around 40 jobs.
The first of the 15 residents in the 30-bed home moved out yesterday, many of whom Mr Tunney said had been distressed by the news.
The home, which opened in 1992, has been operating at a reduced capacity for several months. It is expected other homes will follow suit.
Tunney said the intention was to manage the home to ensure that residents incurred "minimal disruption".
Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott said he hoped the home could somehow remain open.
"I believe the Western Trust should be looking at this case and recognising that it cannot afford to let the home close," he said.
"Given the home is privately-run, the owner simply could not be expected to continue operating at a loss, which is why I believe the Western Trust should intervene to see what additional support it might be able to offer, even on a short-term basis."
Sinn Fein MLA Phil Flanagan said he knew many people who had benefited from the care provided by Shannagh over the last 20 years.
"Finding alternative accommodation for the residents is now a challenge for all involved and this must be done in a way that meets the needs of the residents and their families," he said.
Mr Tunney said the home would stay open until suitable accommodation was found for all of the remaining residents.
He said the planned closure was due to a lack of patient admissions from the Western Health and Social Care Trust.
In a statement a spokeswoman for the trust said: "The trust very much regrets that the decision to close the home had to be taken but recognises the challenges that nursing home providers face.
"In response to this decision trust staff will work in partnership with Mr Tunney to support the number of trust's clients within the home and their families through the transition to suitable alternative accommodation."