Pensioners celebrate care home victory

Published Thursday, 17 April 2014
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Pensioners and families of residents in NHS care homes across Northern Ireland have been celebrating after Edwin Poots announced the facilities are to remain open.

Pensioners celebrate care home victory
Clifford Devlin said he was happy his home had been saved. (© UTV)

Last year a consultation was launched into the future of 18 care homes across the region.

It was widely felt that the consultation was a precursor to the homes' eventual closure and residents and their families and friends launched a campaign to stop the action.

On Wednesday, the health minister visited some of those homes to inform the residents he had decided to keep the homes open.

Clifford Devlin, a resident at the Westlands Care Home in Cookstown said he was delighted with the decision.

The 86-year-old said: "I thought it was a miracle, but I knew Mr Poots would be true to his word.

"Last year he told me he would keep the home open and I knew he would."

Mr Devlin has been a resident in the home for over two decades.

He added: "It's a fantastic home and I have such great friends, the 20 years just seems like no time at all."

It would have been very sad for the home to have closed, but I knew Mr Poots would not let us down.

Clifford Devlin, resident

Margaret Wallace's 103-year-old mother is a resident in the Pinewoods Residential Home in Ballymena.

She said her campaign for the homes will continue.

"It would have been devastating - life-threatening even - for my mother to leave the home and everyone is delighted that the health minister has made this decision.

"But we now want the homes to end their non-admissions policy and open them up for new residents.

"That is what we are all about. We took 11,000 signatures to Stormont and still more people are supporting us."

Edwin Poots said the focus now would be on utilising the facilities rather than closing them.

Unison, however, has said it believes the long term future of the homes remains in doubt.

Stephanie Greenwood from the union said: "If this was a genuine U-turn then the non-admissions policies would have ended.

"Why change a service that works, that is so well delivered and loved.

"We are not campaigning for buildings we are campaigning for the service.

"We are asking the health minister to be brave. End non-admission policies, reinvest in the homes and invest in the service."

Speaking to UTV Health Minister Edwin Poots said he regretted the anguish the residents had been put through.

The DUP minister said that he has asked the Health and Social Care Board to look at the non-admissions policy of the Northern and Southern Trusts.

© UTV News
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