East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs Jr has questioned the new Health Minister Simon Hamilton MLA on the topic of residential care homes and supported living at Lisgarel during question time at Stormont.
Mr Beggs said “Does the Minister recognise the vital role that residential care homes play in providing local respite care and an additional facility in supporting our hospitals during the winter pressures when even more elective surgery would otherwise have had to be cancelled? Will he widen his guarantee to include supported living accommodation, such as the one attached to Lisgarel statutory residential home, whose residents were delivered letters a number of years ago saying that they would have to find a new home? Will he ensure that those residents will be able to live in the supported housing that is attached to the residential home for as long as they wish?”
Health Minister Simon Hamilton said “I am not aware of the details of the case that Mr Beggs raises, but I am happy to look at it and communicate with him. I accept his point that there is a role for statutory care homes in step-up and step-down provision in the multifunctional use of care homes. It is important to remember that. That service will continue to be provided. We sometimes focus too much on structures without concerning ourselves with the important services that are meant to be provided and recognising patterns of care. Many citizens want to remain in their homes a lot longer and live their lives out in their own properties. We want to continue to support that sort of independent living. As I said, the issue has caused concern in the past. Whatever decisions are taken by the board, I want the matter to be handled with appropriate sensitivity and care and better than it was previously, and to ensure that all people who are affected understand that they will reach their own personal decision about where they want to be and whether they want to remain in a home or to move to other residential care. No one — not me or anybody on the board or in the trusts — will tell those people that they should move out of their homes, because those are their homes. We will always want to do what is best for people in residential care.
Mr Beggs concluded “I look forward to hearing from the Health Minister in relation to my suggestion of getting a guarantee in relation to supported living accommodation. As well as providing essential residential care, the Lisgarel Residential complex provides supportive living to the adjacent homes. Both are need to meet the growing older population in the Larne area.”