Clonmore care home saved from closure

RELIEVED staff and residents at Clonmore House in Rathcoole were celebrating this week after the Northern Health Trust shelved plans to replace their home.

Distraught elderly residents had to endure weeks of uncertainty earlier this year after the Trust named the Crossreagh Drive facility as one of five residential care homes earmarked for closure.

However, following a widespread public outcry, the Trust clarified that its proposals were not about closing homes, but rather replacing them with more modern facilities.

On Thursday the Trust announced that Clonmore will not be replaced as part of its current plans – a decision that should end speculation about the future of the home until at least 2011. However, a local Planning Forum is expected to be set up in the coming months to look at longer-term options for the provision of new accommodation for older people.

One senior member of staff at Clonmore said that the final recommendations, announced by the Trust Board at their monthly meeting, had come as a huge relief to employees and residents.

“It’s a big relief for a lot of us,” she told the Times. “The residents are absolutely delighted. A lot of them had a lot of sleepless nights about all this, but they’re delighted now that the Trust has ended the uncertainty.”

Chairperson of the Friends of Clonmore campaign group, Colleen Long, said that they are “very happy” with the Trust’s decision, but are concerned for those who will be affected by the proposed replacement projects at Rathmoyle (Ballycastle) and Greenisland.

Mrs Long said that the group would remain active to enable them to lobby on any future proposals for the care home, and to ensure the facility is supported and maintained by the Trust as promised.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds also welcomed the confirmation that Clonmore will not be affected by the Trust’s need to cut costs over the next two years.

“This is a victory for people power and will come as a great relief to current residents and their families,” he told the Times.

“However, the campaign must continue to ensure that Clonmore House is fully maintained and receives all necessary improvements while a longer-term planning process takes place without the threat of imminent closure,” the DUP man added.

Macedon councillor Billy Webb said the Trust’s decision would be welcomed by residents and their families.

“There was great public concern about the possibility of the home closing and those against closure deserve credit for their successful campaign. During the consultation period the Trust made the point that Clonmore was in need of modernising, and now that the home is to remain open, I call on them to carry out the necessary work to bring the home up to a modern standard,” he said.