People urged to speak out against moves to close care homes

Patient and Client Council's Jackie McNeill (Northern Area Manager), Dr Maureen Edmondson (Board, Chair) and Maeve Hully (Chief Executive) are urging local people to come along to the roadshow at Antrim Library on September 27 and put their questions about 'Transforming Your Care' to the key decision makers.
Patient and Client Council's Jackie McNeill (Northern Area Manager), Dr Maureen Edmondson (Board, Chair) and Maeve Hully (Chief Executive) are urging local people to come along to the roadshow at Antrim Library on September 27 and put their questions about 'Transforming Your Care' to the key decision makers.
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Have your say

A BALLYROBERT woman has urged the public to have their say on the Northern Health Trust’s plans for the future of residential care homes.

The plans, published following the release of the Compton Review last December, recommended “major changes” and “alternatives” to the 11 residential homes in the Northern Trust area.

As a replacement, the Trust is proposing using charity and voluntary services to deliver care in the community and in patients’ own homes.

Clonmore House care home in Rathcoole is one of the facilities facing possible closure within the next five years.

Ballyrobert woman Claire Armstrong has a relative in one of the Trust’s residential homes and works in the voluntary sector.

She said: “I am concerned people do not know about these proposals.

“They have come about because the Compton Review said people wanted to be cared for in their own homes and that’s what the health service should be providing for.

“Of course if you ask someone if they would rather be treated in their own home or taken to a residential home, it is obvious what their answer would be.

“But that does not mean you should close residential homes altogether. Not everyone can be treated in their own home and not everyone has a home to be treated in.

“There is a real need for more residential care homes, but instead the reaction is to close the facilities.

“They say this is not about money, but about supporting people. But in my experience when statutory services are reduced and voluntary organisations replace them, their funding soon dries up.”

She went on: “I have a relative in one of the Trust’s homes and it is fantastic. The care is fantastic, the staff incredible and the food excellent, they are not-for-profit organisations and as a result the standard is very high.

“And for most people there is a real fear of the private sector.

“The Trust is proposing moving care into the community - in people’s homes - by using voluntary and community organisations. It is the private sector they will be using, but they won’t say it.

“And essentially people will end up needing lottery funding to have someone come out to their house every day.”

Claire added: “My concern is people do not know about these plans and they should take the time out to read them and make their opinion heard through their MPs, MLAs, councillors and to the Trust itself.”

The Northern Health Trust has said there will be a “widely publicised” consultation process on changes to residential care.

Meanwhile, the Patient and Client Council (PCC) has called on the Northern Health Trust to make it clear to people exactly what ‘Transforming Your Care’ (TYC) will mean for them, their families and communities.

The PCC is planning a series of roadshows over the next two months where it has invited those responsible for TYC to answer face to face the public’s questions and concerns.

The next roadshow will take place at Antrim Library on September 27 at 2pm. Those interested in attending are asked to call 0800 917 0222 or email ppc.roadshow@hscni.net to confirm their attendance.