Elected representatives have welcomed Health Minister Edwin Poots’ decision not to close 18 care homes, including Larne’s Lisgarel.
The proposed closures, made under the Transforming Your Care initiative, would have affected homes in the Northern and Western Trust areas. The plans attracted condemnation from elderly residents’ families, who were concerned at the stress felt by relatives forced to leave their homes.
In a letter to the chair of Stormont’s Health Committee, Mr Poots wrote: “I am clear that existing residents will be allowed to remain in their home for as long as they wish and so long as their needs can continue to be met there.”
Welcoming the U-turn, DUP Councillor Gregg McKeen told The Times: “The residents will welcome the surety that this is no longer hanging over their heads and that they have been given the reassurance they will be allowed to remain there.”
Importantly, while Mr Poots has guaranteed the right of existing residents to remain in their care homes, he has not confirmed the homes will be open to new admissions. This has led to speculation that the minister is simply delaying closures.
Ulster Unionist Party Health Spokesperson Roy Beggs commented: “This announcement that existing residents will not be evicted will come as great relief to residents, their families and the staff. The closure announcement by each of the Health Trusts was disgraceful. Elderly and vulnerable residents have been unnecessarily traumatised.
“The Northern HSCT has a non-admissions policy preventing new permanent residents being accepted in their residential care homes such as Clonmore, Joymount and Lisgarel.
“Whilst existing residents have been given a degree of protection by the minister’s statement, the long term future of residential care homes will remain in doubt unless new residents are admitted.”
Mr Beggs added: “The work I am pleased that the Min