Commenting on news that the Northern Health Trust are proposing to close all 9 of their remaining statutory residential homes, Ulster Unionist Health spokesman Roy Beggs MLA said:
“I am shocked that Minister Poots’ ink is no sooner dry on his decision to close half of all the statutory homes across Northern Ireland, now the Northern Health and Social Care Trust are already proposing the closure of the remaining Trust Residential care places.”
“I have been warning for some time that widespread closures would be part of the outworking of part of the Transforming Your Care proposals, endorsed in its entirety by the Minister for Health Edwin Poots. However, even in the worst case scenario I never envisaged the Trust proposing a total closure of all of their residential care homes by 2017.
“I have also asked, but have yet to receive an answer, to a simple question: what has caused Mr Poots to do a complete policy U-turn? Four years ago, similar proposals were being put forward by all the local health trusts, as part of ‘efficiency savings’ proposals. Edwin Poots MLA emphatically opposed closing residential homes at the Assembly. What has changed Mr Poots` mind? Can he guarantee to the many vulnerable residents of Residential Homes and their relatives, and those that may become vulnerable in the future, that alternative arrangements are already in place to accommodate their needs?”
Roy Beggs indicated that relatives of residents at care homes were called in to meetings earlier this week and were advised that the Trust will be closing all its residential homes in the next few years.
“The decision to close half the residential care beds within a 3 to 5 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 additional support? Will there be sufficient alternative residential accommodation within a reasonable distance from family and friends? It would appear not. Where will the respite and rehabilitation that has been occurring at the Trust Residential care homes, take place in the future?”
Note for editors:
The following quotes from Edwin Poots are taken from Hansard and can be checked online:
Edwin Poots proposed a DUP motion in the Assembly on 23 February 2009 entitled, ""That the Assembly expresses its opposition to the proposed closure of residential care homes by a number of Health and Social Care Trusts; and calls on the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to intervene and listen to the concerns of the community and take appropriate action to minimise the pain, stress and anxiety that this uncertainty has created among elderly care home residents, their families and health workers."
"If we go down the route of doing away with statutory residential care, we could end up with a situation similar to that in England, where care in residential private nursing homes is of a much lower standard than we would expect for our elderly people." Edwin Poots MLA 23/2/09