Care home is saved in dramatic U-turn

Relatives of pensioners in a Co Down residential home have told of their relief after the lifeline facility was saved. Skeagh House in Dromore was one of two homes earmarked for closure as part of a shake-up of services by the Southern Health and Social Services Trust.

However, the trust was forced to make a dramatic U-turn last night after residents, their families and political representatives launched a massive campaign of opposition. Skeagh House and Slieve Roe home in Kilkeel are now to be upgraded.

In a statement issued last night the SHSST said: “The tTrust’s strategic aim is to provide services to enable older people to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible. However, the trust has considered the strong representations from respondents opposing our original proposal to close two of the five homes in the area, specifically the view that this would significantly impact on accessibility to residential care for local communities.

“The trust is therefore proposing an |alternative service model which will retain all the current statutory residential homes in the area. Our initial proposal was to close Skeagh House in Dromore and Slieve Roe in Kilkeel.

“The proposed new model would |enable both homes to remain open and all residents to continue to receive their care as normal. During the consultation process we have secured additional funding for |dementia services and have obtained agreement with our commissioner that some of this funding can be used for respite in our residential homes.

“Our revised proposal will therefore see the development of each home as local centres for care of older people to include the introduction of new respite services for people with dementia.”

However, the families of those affected by the proposals said their lives had been put under an intolerable strain during the past 18 weeks.

Cherry Arnold, whose 89-year-old mother, Cherrie McCollum, attends day care at Skeagh House said: “It’s a great relief for all the residents who were terribly upset at the thought of it closing.

“Right from last November they didn’t know whether or not they would lose their home.

“My mother uses Skeagh House for respite care and I really could not cope without it.”

Roberta Young, whose 94-year-old mother also resides in Skeagh House, added: “We are delighted. Mother is over the moon and can’t believe it.

“She is in at the minute and all the residents are cheering, crying and think it is wonderful that they can live the rest of their days at Skeagh House.”