Having pressed for the end of the ban on new residents at local residential homes during Assembly Question time, East Antrim Assemblyman Roy Beggs MLA has welcomed the HSC Boards recommendation to the Trust to ensure a long term future for Lisgarel residential home
T2. Mr Beggs asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety whether he will take a fresh look at the statutory residential care homes issue and ensure that the ban on new permanent residents is removed in order that those homes can have some hope for the future, reflecting the vital role that they play in our community, particularly given that, tomorrow, the Health and Social Care Board is meeting to consider the five proposals from each of the trusts for the future of statutory residential care homes. (AQT 2502/11-15)
Mr Hamilton: “I am well aware of the sensitivities about statutory care homes. I thank the Member for raising the issue, because it gives me the opportunity to make one particular point clear. Whatever decisions are made — we await the outcome of tomorrow’s board meeting — the message that Edwin Poots gave when he was in post, which was reiterated by Jim Wells and which I am happy to reaffirm today, is absolutely critical: no resident of any statutory care home that is earmarked for closure at any point in the future will be moved out of their home against their will. It is incredibly important that, when this debate happens, as it inevitably will at some stage in the future if not in the next number of days, current residents of those care homes understand that they will not be moved out of their homes against their will. Unfortunately, a lot of things were said in the past that scared people and caused grave concern. I accept that the issue was not handled well. I hope that, whatever decision the board takes, it will be treated with the sensitivity and respect that it deserves and that that important assurance that I have given, which my predecessors put in place, that no one will be moved out of their home against their will, will be received and understood by residents and their families.
Mr Beggs: Does the Minister recognise the vital role that such 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?
Mr Hamilton: 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.
Commenting on the latest Health & Social Care Boards recommendation that the local residential homes have a continuing role and the ban on new residents should end, Roy Beggs MLA said, “I welcome the new recommendation coming from the Health and Social Care Board to the Northern HSC Trust that the ban on permanent new residents should lifted. Clearly Lisgarel, Joymount and Clonmore meet a continuing need and if accepted, this should secure this vital support for our older residents into the future. “