Trust accused of trying to close care homes ‘by the back door’

Clonmore House, Rathcoole.
Clonmore House, Rathcoole.

Councillors have expressed their shock at claims the Northern Trust has not admitted permanent residents to its care homes in the past two years.

Alliance representative Billy Webb said the move was an attempt by the trust to close the facilities “by the back door”.

The anger came in response to claims made by trade union Unison who urged the council to support its opposition to the potential closure of care homes across the trust area.

In May the Northern Trust announced it was to close all its residential care homes as part of the Transforming Your Care programme for change.

After a public backlash, Health Minister Edwin Poots performed a u-turn and called on all the health trusts to drop their plans.

At their meeting on July 8, Colm Burns from Unison told councillors: “While he asked the trusts to drop their plans, the proposal still remains and the residential care homes could still be closed in the longer term.”

The union man said the closure of any residential care home put people’s lives at risk.

“We are asking for the council’s support in our opposition to any closure and to call on the Northern Health Trust to end its policy of no admissions,” he added.

“Clonmore House has not accepted a permanent resident in two years and the same is true across all the Northern Health Trust homes.”

Responding, Councillor Billy Webb said he was “shocked” and “annoyed” upon hearing that the home had not admitted a permanent resident for two years.

“This is just a way for the trust to close the home by the back door,” he claimed.

“I am shocked to hear this and very annoyed by this.”

The former mayor added: “It is a sad reflection on our society that we are talking about the care of elderly people in terms of pounds, shillings and pence.

“Care should be provided to the elderly and there should be no quibbling with the price, it should just be paid for.

“We fought hard to keep Clonmore House open and I still support those residents and will continue to fight for their cause.”

Alderman Billy DeCourcy added: “I’ll back Councillor Webb on that. We fought tooth and nail for the home and we will do it again.”