Northern Ireland

Care home closures: TUV tables motion opposing move

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe Southern trust said respite and day care at the five homes would not be affected

The TUV leader has tabled an assembly motion, identical to one by the current health minister four years ago, opposing the closure of NHS residential homes.

Jim Allister's motion comes after two trusts confirmed plans to close all their care homes.

In 2009, Edwin Poots criticised his predecessor Michael McGimpsey for cutting front-line services.

Jim Allister said his motion showed the hypocrisy behind Mr Poot's actions.

"When health ministers dress things up saying 'it's really in your own interests' very often, as in 2009, and as today in 2013, it's a cover for a financially-driven proposition, which has no regard to the actual needs of the community," he said.

In the past 48 hours, the southern and northern trusts have announced the potential closure of all their residential homes.

The proposed closures are part of a wide-ranging reform of the provision of care for the elderly across Northern Ireland.

Under the Transforming Your Care reform programme, NHS services will focus on helping elderly people to live in their own homes for as long as possible, rather than providing residential care.

The southern trust operates five homes that care for 80 residents, while the northern trust runs nine homes for 154 people.

There are currently 128 people in care homes in the south eastern area.

Belfast, which is the largest trust, began the process in 1990 and has since closed 10 homes.

A spokesperson said the remaining three - Pine Lodge, Chestnut Grove and Grovetree House - which have a total of 20 residents, will close in five years under "natural circumstances".

A spokesperson for the Western trust said: "The trust has developed a proposal which will be taken to a trust board meeting next week.

"The western trust has currently has five residential homes within its remit in the Strabane, Derry and Limavady Council areas.

"One of these homes, Seymour Gardens, is registered as an EMI home (specifically for dementia sufferers), and as such is outside the consideration of TYC proposal."

Over the past decade the majority of older people who required care in Belfast used the private sector.

Earlier, in a statement to the BBC's Nolan Show, the southern trust said it had already stopped admitting long-term residents and would consult on plans to shut the homes.

The homes affected by the southern trust's closure plans are Crozier House in Banbridge, Skeagh House in Dromore and Slieve Roe in Kilkeel, all in County Down; Cloughreagh House in Bessbrook, County Armagh, and Roxborough House in Moy, County Tyrone.

The trust confirmed that the decision to cease permanent admissions to all five homes had been taken at its board meeting last month, in order to "minimise the number of residents who will be affected as the number of homes reduce".

It added that the move would not affect patients who are currently in receipt of day care or respite care at the facilities.

Angela McVeigh, the Southern trust's director of older people and primary care, said: "We are committed to treating each resident as an individual and working with them and their families and carers to ensure their needs are met through any change to the home in which they currently live."

Unison has criticised the move saying the southern trust was "masking the truth with these closures".

Anne Speed from the union said: "They accepted a sham public consultation led by the HSCB in which the residents themselves were not asked where they wanted to live.

"As a result, elderly residents will be evicted from their homes with the private sector waiting in the wings to take them on.

"The trust is now acting as a passageway for the private sector. The health committee needs to scrutinise these decisions and alternatives must be offered".

More on this story