East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs has expressed his alarm at what he described as the “lack of specific plans” to replace residential care homes such as Lisgarel in Larne.
As previously reported in the Larne Times, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust had announced its intention to close all nine of its state-run residential homes, as part of sweeping reforms of elderly care provision.
The proposals caused a huge public outcry, leading Health Minister Edwin Poots to instruct the Trust to drop the contentious plans.
But Mr Beggs has warned that this is only a temporary reprieve and pointed out that the facilities are still earmarked for closure.
Speaking during a debate in the Assembly, the Ulster Unionist representative said: “In my response to the proposals, I expressed concern at the high risk of the flawed proposal to close so many homes so rapidly. I also 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.”
Mr Beggs added that he had two family members pass through Clonmore Residential Home in Newtownabbey last year, who had received additional respite care and rehabilitation that enabled them successfully to go back to their own home.
“So, residential homes could have a role in that area as well,” he added.
“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?”