Consultation on care home closures

Published Thursday, 25 April 2013
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Plans on the future of elderly care provision in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust will go out to public consultation.

Consultation on care home closures
Half of state run care homes will close as part of the shake-up. (© UTV)

The board of the trust agreed the move at a meeting on Thursday.

Around half of all care homes in Northern Ireland are set to close as part of the Transforming Your Care (TYC) programme, which was recently agreed by Health Minister Edwin Poots.

However the union Unite revealed on Wednesday that all nine homes operated by the Northern Trust are earmarked for closure by 2018.

Speaking after the board meeting, Health and Social Care Board chief executive John Compton said residential care may be the most appropriate choice for some older people, but is not what others want - and TYC is about providing a range of alternatives.

"The board supports the trend towards independent living at home focussing on helping people remain at home for as long as possible or in supported living accommodation and offering more choice and control about the type of care available to older people," he said.

"Supported living accommodation or 'housing with care' options are already developing.

We expect that over the three years to 2015, over 450 supported living places will be developed across Northern Ireland

John Compton

"We need to move away from an institutional 'bed based' response to older people's care needs toward one which gives people 'their own front door' and better reflects most people's wish to live in a home setting."

The paper will go to consultation from 26 April to 26 July.

Unison said the first two homes to close in the Northern Trust will be Pinewood in Ballymena and Westlands in Cookstown in November, followed by Rathmoyle in Moyle in January next year.

They hit out at the scale of the closures.

Joe McCusker from the union said: "The proposal to close residential care homes leaves no NHS provision for residential care in the Northern Health Trust area.

"This will remove any choice for vulnerable people to be cared for in an NHS care home."

One resident at Pinewood, 87-year-old Mary King who has lived there for three years and requires 24-hour care, spoke of her shock and sadness at the news.

"The bottom just fell out of my world. It was a first class home," she told UTV, adding that there aren't many other care homes available in the area.

"They're making a big mistake, a really big mistake - because people like me really needed it. Where will they go and who will want them?"

The union UNITE said the situation is a "farce".

Kevin McAdam said: "This is an absolute disgrace and a farce that the Northern Trust will consult on the closure of all nine care homes. The Compton report makes it clear that transforming your care intends removing this elderly care from the National Health Service.

"This is only one piece of the transforming your care that shows it is nothing more than a means of privatising the NHS. Maybe TYC stands for take your cash."

South Belfast SDLP MLA Conall McDevitt said: "Today's decision is not a progressive one. It is short sighted and will in the long run be regretted.

The NHS matters to people here. The public do not want to see the private sector taking a lead role in health and social care delivery

Conall McDevitt

"Today we renew our call on the Minister for Health to make a firm commitment to bring forward legislation to protect the health and social care system for privatisation."

East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs said the move could put vulnerable residents at risk.

He said: "The decision to close half the residential care beds within a three to five year period carries many risks for vulnerable residents and for our health care system.

"Any proposal to close them all will leave many of our most vulnerable adults with great distress and uncertainty. With the increasing reliance on domiciliary care, will there be sufficient respite care for the growing numbers of vulnerable constituents who will rely on the support from family and friends?"

Sinn Féin MLA Mickey Brady said: "The Northern Trust would appear to be proposing closing all their residential homes and while this is not going to happen immediately, I can understand that people currently living in these homes and their families are worried about the future.

"There appears have been a lack of consultation and information going to those who this decision directly affects and that is why the Chair of the committee Sue Ramsey has asked for an urgent meeting with the Northern Trust and Health departmental officials on Monday to find out exactly what is happening."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
realistic in planet earth wrote (644 days ago):
We're seeing these sort of problems with public services for a number of reasons..... 1) the country is broke, we're running out of money folks and the outlook is very bleak for the foreseeable future, 2) lots of whatever little money there is about is being wasted. as terri in limavady says about prisons, prisoners would not be top of my list for getting money spent on them. I'm not being political, but there has also being a mountain of money wasted on recent 'events' in NI. 3) the NHS is nearly a victim of its own sucess, people are living much longer. I don't want to sound callous or uncaring by this statement. 4) our politicians are really not up to the job yet- for a number of reasons... they haven't really got any powers re taxation etc in order to raise their own budgets..... and most are not politicians in the true sense of the word, more like tribal leaders............. I see economic and political upheaval for NI for a couple more generations yet, hopefully by then our economy, our politicians, and (most importantly) our people, will have matured into a country that can look after its old and vunerable much better........ :)
Letitia Shaw in County Antrim wrote (645 days ago):
I have just heard Edwin Poots on the television saying that the Trust homes should close because they don't have en-suite bathrooms. My relative is in a home in Northern Trust that has been ear-marked for closure in these plans. She is in a lovely single room with a bathroom right beside it. The private sector homes in the area do not even have single rooms, let alone en-suite bathrooms. This en-suite bathroom argument the minister talks about is a smokescreen. If the minister is so concerned about better rooms in homes, why doesn't he raise the standards in private homes and ban forcing older, vulnerable people to share rooms with strangers, even using comodes in the same room at night. That's the alternative for my relative if these closures go ahead. We don't accept mixed sex wards anymore, why should we accept this? Please keep raising this issue and getting more dignity for our older people.
JOY in lisburn wrote (645 days ago):
as i heard on the steven nolan show this moring Edwin Poots was against this in 2009 and now that hes health minster he is doing what he said he would fight against , hes closing hospitals and now nursing homes where is it going to stop this country is in ruins and its getting worse im really angry at this we vote for these people to help this country and they do harm there will be no vote from me again as it couldnt get any worse here
linda scott in co., down wrote (645 days ago):
i am so sad that the care homes are to close.people do you also know the care workers in the trust also have been told that our work also is away to the private sector already.I am sick to the gut and a job i loved so much has gone.
Valerie in Belfast wrote (645 days ago):
It will cost more money and put elderly at risk having them in their own homes, bottom line is they want people to go into private nursing homes. Let Edwin Poots take some elderly patients to his home and see how he likes it... Most have paid taxes all their lives and now they are being forgotten. So much for a national health service, not much point in paying taxes for this when its not being used for those who need it most !
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