Speaking in a debate at Stormont about care for the Elderly, Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs Jnr has expressed his alarm at the lack of specific local plans to replace Residential Care Homes such as Lisgarel in Larne, Joymount in Carrickfergus and Clonmore in Newtownabbey- which have again been earmarked for closure by Health Minister Edwin Poots.
Mr Beggs told the Assembly:
“In my response to the Transforming Your Care proposals, I urged caution regarding the proposed changes to services for the elderly. I also expressed concern at the high risk of the flawed proposal to close so many homes so rapidly. I highlighted issues such as the increasing need for respite care in this new model, where domiciliary care increasingly becomes the primary source of retaining our older population in their own home.
With our growing older population, I believe that there will also be a need for increased respite care. How will it be provided? Our statutory residential homes, with their professional staff teams, would be well placed to provide such care. They are also very well placed to assist our hospitals, which have been struggling with the winter pressures, the bottlenecks that have occurred and pressures on beds. I declare an interest in that two family members passed through Clonmore House statutory residential home last year. They received additional respite care and rehabilitation that, ultimately, enabled them successfully to go back to their own home. So, residential homes could have a role in that area as well.
However, I believe that we need a variety of options going forward. We need residential homes in the statutory and private sectors because a look at where they are today shows there to be a dearth of homes in some areas and, were we to close all our statutory residential homes, there would be huge voids in provision. We have nursing homes, which, as has been indicated, are in the private sector, and we must also take care there, particularly given issues of large suppliers going bust, such as Southern Cross, because of providers being pressed so heavily. So, there is a delicate line to be drawn here; cutting resources will impact on surviving care homes and, ultimately, on the care provided to people in those homes.”
Mr Beggs who is the only one of the 6 East Antrim MLAs to have responded to the official ‘Transforming your Care’ consultation in January, added;
“As mentioned earlier, there is this need for supported housing. What surprises me about the proposals to date is that there are specific plans to close named homes, but I have not seen the corresponding specific plans to replace those homes with supported housing, other than in the cases of Greenisland House and, Rathmoyle in Ballycastle.
Where are the plans for all the other areas where there are proposed closures? “
Note to editor. Plans to replace Greenisland House and Rathmoyle with supported housing units were approved by former Minister Michael McGimpsey in 2009.
Please find linked portion of Roy Beggs MLA’s written response to the TYC consultation dealing with Elder Care from 15th January 2013.