Tuesday 22 August 2017 08:10:19 AM

Residential Home Run Down Fears Spreading Across North
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HEALTH chiefs have been accused of condemning the most vulnerable members of the elderly population and their families to “a living hell” over the way it is continuing to implement admissions to NHS residential care homes.

And the leader of the SDLP group on Newry and Mourne Council, Councillor Connaire McGreevy has challenged the health authorities to make clear that the decision to close at least 50 per cent of National Health Residential Care Homes was “not part of a behind doors cash deal with elements of the private sector.” He said: “The recent revelation by the BBC that has been a deliberate policy to refuse any new admissions to residential care in order to make the sector unworkable is quite shocking.

There is growing concern across Northern Ireland at the future of residential homes run by Health Trusts.

There is growing concern across Northern Ireland at the future of residential homes run by Health Trusts.

“We have had various excuses trotted out by the Southern Trust in trying to defend why since last March it has closed its doors to potential clients.

“Up to now families have had to reluctantly accept the official line that nothing could be done because of a continuing consultation process.

“But now that has been revealed to have been nothing more than a sham exercise, one that continues to make a mockery of care and compassion. It is clear that despite all the promises, people will be dumped out of state care facilities.

“They will be forced to live in totally unsuitable conditions, looked after by family members with no proper health training or support.

“They will, at best, get a few minutes care from over worked and over stressed care staff.

“And obviously the only real winners will be the Department and the Trust with having their costs cut, while at the same time the private sector will be able to look forward to a much improved bank balance.”

Councillor McGreevy added: “The entire process continues to stink. It makes me very worried that the only objective of the Department is one based on savings and not on service to those that most need help.”

Mr. McGreevy said that unless those responsible for the overall running of residential care homes reversed Stormont-led strategies to block access to state facilities they should be prepared to face legal consequences.

He added: “There are many hundreds of elderly people and their families that simply don’t know what is going to happen.What they do know is that all the official civil service speak about wanting to do what is best for current residents.

“But despite claims from the Department of Health and the Southern Trust that a full consultation process will be held with all stakeholders over the ultimate future of NHS residential care the public is right to remain sceptical.

“The Minister and his Stormont officials, along with those in the Trust who are prepared to go against the wishes of the vast majority of our society won’t be allowed to get away with this con job.” added Mr McGreevy.

Down District Councillor and SDLP local health spokesperson Councillor Colin McGrath added: ‘I would view any

Councillor Colin McGrath.

Councillor Colin McGrath.

attempts by the Trust to ‘run down’ statutory homes as an attempt to frustrate the consultation process and I am heartened by the fact that the Patient Client Council and other local voluntary groups are aware of this tactic and intend to be vigilant of it in the future.

“Any closure of a home is unacceptable especially if there are residents living in them that do not wish to move.
“There is a further issue the alternatives to residential provision and whilst the greater majority of people may wish to stay at home it is not always practical for them to do so – not least due to the often drained resource capability of community care which can put lives in danger.’

The Patient and Client Council welcome the publication of plans by the Health and Social Care Board on the new process approved for the future of Statutory Residential Care Homes.

The Patient and Client Council have been highlighting for some time the importance of involving residents of homes, and their families, in all decisions about their future care.

The Patient and Client Council’s Louise Skelly (Head of Operations) said: “Residents and their families must be involved in all decisions about their future care in a meaningful way and we welcome the plan to involve people in designing the criteria to be used by the Trusts when deciding the future of each Statutory Residential Care Home.  People need to have their say in this consultation process and the Patient and Client Council will help residents and their families to do this.

“We have written to all Statutory Residential Care Homes with information for every resident offering an advocacy service.  If anyone has a concern or complaint concerning any healthcare issue we have a dedicated team of Patient Client Support Officers who will assist them in raising their concerns with the leaders and decision makers in healthcare in Northern Ireland. People can contact us on 0800 917 0222