Clonmore could close by 2015, says health trust

Clonmore House, Rathcoole.
Clonmore House, Rathcoole.
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THE Northern Health Trust has confirmed that it plans to close all of its residential care homes over the next five years, including Clonmore House in Rathcoole.

While the Trust has stressed that its proposals still have to go out to public consultation, it has already revealed that Clonmore could close as soon as 2015.

This isn’t the first time health chiefs have proposed the closure of Clonmore House. Back in 2009 a group of campaigners, backed by Diane Dodds MEP, took the fight to save the facility to the Health Minister at Stormont. But now, with the Trust planning to cease providing statutory residential care altogether, it seems likely that the home will close within the next few years.

A period of public consultation on the Trust’s paper on the Future of Residential Care Services will run from now until Friday, July 26.

The proposals contained in the paper are based on the outcomes of the regional consultation on the ‘Transforming Your Care’ document, which recommends that home should be the hub of care; that older people should be supported to remain at home and in their local communities; and that there should be a reduction in statutory residential homes for older people.

At present the Trust manages nine residential homes and is proposing that no more long term admissions are made to any of its homes. It intends to close up to 50 per cent of its homes within the next three years, and in the longer term stop providing statutory residential care entirely.

“Older people have consistently told us that they want to remain at home for as long as possible. We are also planning for a growing older population and the ensuing demands on the service,” explained Trust Director of Older People’s Services, Una Cunning.

“Our priority is to ensure that the current residents are informed and supported throughout this process. To do that we will establish a transitions team including the named worker, staff representatives, and advocates to plan any moves and agree short term support that will be required.

“I am also aware that this change will impact on staff. The Trust has a policy of no compulsory redundancy. Given the phased nature of this work we are confident that alternative posts will be identified for staff.”

A statement issued by the Trust added: “In the last number of years we have invested significantly in community services such as reablement and domiciliary care to build up these services and we anticipate further investment in community and supported living to avoid the need to admit people to residential care.

“We must ensure that services are available that can support the growing numbers of older people, both now and in the future, within their own home as far as possible.

“We will continue to explore ways to reform the Trust’s domiciliary care service so that it helps people to remain independent for as long as possible. As Trust staff leave the service we propose to transfer the long-term care services to the independent sector where we believe we will secure value for money while maintaining service quality standards.

“The Trust will work closely with families and residents to keep them informed and involved at every stage of the process. This process will be handled in a sensitive manner taking into account the specific needs of each resident and family, with an emphasis on alternative placements being arranged locally.”

The Trust has said that resident numbers at Clonmore are likely to increase initially to facilitate some resident transfers from Greenisland House, which is due to close later this year.

The Crossreagh Drive care home could close by 2015/16, but the Trust has said that “the availability of alternative placements in the independent sector may bring this date forward.”

For more information about the Trust’s proposals, log on to www.northerntrust.hscni.net or visit the Northern Trust Facebook page.