Assembly Opposed To Care Home Closures

THE Assembly has backed a motion opposing the closure of residential care homes. The motion was proposed by the DUP during an Assembly debate at Stormont this week. Ahead of the debate, a petition signed by several thousand people in East Antrim was presented to MLA Alastair Ross.

Five homes were initially declared under threat of closure by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, including Greenisland House, Lisgarel in Larne and Clonmore in Newtownabbey.

The Northern Trust has since stated that these properties will be replaced with new accommodation, including supported living.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has reported that his department has to find £700 million over the three year Comprehensive Spending Review period.

“This enormous sum of money, which is the largest of any department, must be found within a budget that is already stretched to its limit,” he added.

However, he pointed out that the closure of residential homes is “not a done deal”.

The Assembly has called on the Health Minister to intervene, listen to the concerns of the community and take appropriate action to minimise the pain, stress and uncertainty that has been created among elderly care home residents, their families and health workers.

Welcoming the Assembly’s opposition to any care home closures, Mr. Ross said: “The public are outraged at the McGimpsey cuts to front line health services including residential care homes for the elderly.

“The DUP does not accept his analysis. I am pleased that today our motion declaring opposition to cuts in this vital area has garnered support from right across the Assembly, including from members of Mr. McGimpsey’s own party.

“In my constituency, the scale of public anxiety about the health cuts is palpable. People have been turning out in big numbers at public meetings to register their opposition to proposals to close residential care homes. The reality is that if elderly people did not have these facilities they would not get the same level of care, and would see their life expectancy dramatically decrease.”

The UUP’s Ken Robinson said the issue “goes right to the core of care”.

“Not only the care in home but the feeling of care that the whole community has towards these residents.”

Party colleague Roy Beggs added: “There are major flaws, including financial flaws, in the Trust’s consultation process. Initially they spoke of closing homes including Lisgarel, Greenisland House and Clonmore which would affect my constituents.

“However, they spoke laterally of replacement. In addition, a major plank of the Trust’s proposals is for supported housing. However, no social housing association has committed to provide that funding.”

Speaking after the debate, he continued: “The original consultation document- which the Trust has asked the public respond to – emphatically talks about the closure of residential home, including Lisgarel, Greenisland House and Clonmore.