Tuesday 22 August 2017 09:34:51 PM

Ardview House and Other Residential Homes Saved by Poots From Possible Short-Term Closure
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HEALTH Minister Edwin Poots has taken a tough line with the five health trusts across Northern Ireland as they were showing signs of wiping out Trust-led residential care across the board.

As a consequence, the anxiety over home closures in homes such as Ardview House in Ardglass with approximately 25 residents can now be reduced to a healthier level of concern. This issue too has caused much unnecessary anxiety for local staff who will now be able to breath a sigh of relief.

Health Minister Edwin Poots

Health Minister Edwin Poots

There has been a political and public furore and recent interviews on the Stephen Nolan show have highlighted the enormous strength of public feeling on the issue of residential home closures.

As a result of the public outcry, Minister Poots has decreed that care homes distress is “unacceptable”.

Health Minister Edwin Poots on Friday 3 May  told Northern Ireland’s health and social care trusts to drop their current process for the closure of care homes.

And he announced that the process would be centralised at a regional level. He said he is asking the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) to initiate a new process which will place, at its core, the principle of sensitivity to the needs and wishes of older people. The new process will be lead by Fionnuala McAndrew, Director of Social Services at the HSCB.

Mr Poots met representatives from the five health and social care trusts and the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) to convey his serious concerns about engagement with individuals and families.

Speaking after the meeting at the Southern Trust headquarters in Craigavon, Mr Poots said: “It is unacceptable that any older person feels distressed because of proposals for change. Older people and their families have been left upset and alarmed. That should never be the by-product of a process which is all about improving the lives of older people and giving them more control. This is why we will have a fresh start.

“This is about listening to our older people and their families and our own staff. I have said I want genuine communication with every person affected and every individual to be treated with sensitivity and dignity. I expect a process which not only identifies the needs of each individual affected by proposed changes, but also understands the wishes of every single individual and their families. I expect these wishes to be respected, and this extends to all staff.

“I expect the HSCB to take account of what the Commissioner for Older People has said, and to engage with the Patient Client Council, where appropriate.”

The Minister said proposals must be in line with policy and the pace of any proposed closures must be understood by individuals, staff and the wider public.

He went on to say: “The HSCB must work with trusts and coordinate a regional approach on residential care homes, engaging with the Commissioner for Older People.”

Mr Poots said he expected the HSCB to provide assurance that best practice is followed. This will include:

*  Communication and engagement with individuals, families and staff;
*  That the needs of individuals are being addressed in any proposed change and that their wishes are being listened to;
*  That proposed changes are in line with policy; and
*  That the pace of change is clear, appropriate and in line with policy;

Oversight from the Department’s Chief Social Services Officer, Sean Holland, will provide further assurance for the Minister.

The Minister concluded: “I want to send out a clear message to older people that there will be genuine consultation and their views will be heard. No one’s care will be put in jeopardy.”

Commissioner for Older People to meet with Health Minister and the Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Board

The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Claire Keatinge will be meeting with the Minister for Health, Edwin Poots and the Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Board, John Crompton, next week.

This comes following a number of concerns raised about the proposed closures of statutory residential care homes in Northern Ireland.

 Older Peoples’ Commissioner Expresses Her Deep Concerns

The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Claire Keatinge, said: “I am deeply concerned to hear about the upset and distress being caused to older people currently living in the affected statutory residential care homes. The views and care needs of older people must be the single most important consideration in any process that sets out to close or change a facility.

dn_screen“Older people in care homes must be treated fairly and their voices heard. The care home is their home and each person is an individual. The consultation process must respect the dignity, individual needs and right to privacy of all residents, as well as their rights to be involved in making informed decisions about their care and well being.

“I previously met with Minister Poots and was assured that there was no overall strategy that proposed such widespread closure of statutory residential care homes. I am deeply shocked and surprised at these proposals. I have now arranged to meet with the Minister and the Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Board to express my deep concern about the fear and distress being caused to residents of statutory residential care homes. Any proposals to close statutory residential care homes must put current residents at the heart of decision making and protect their rights.”

Although Commissioner Keatinge will nevertheless welcome the Minister decision the call the dogs off on the closure of residential homes, she will be looking to see what will emerge in a new strategy to shape the living prospects of many elderly people across Northern Ireland.