A fresh campaign aimed at preventing the closure of Lisgarel residential car home in Larne has been launched.
A furore erupted last year when the Northern Health Trust announced it would be axing all nine of its elderly care homes, as part of the Transforming Your Care health review.
It appeared the facilities had been granted a reprieve when Health Minister Edwin Poots confirmed in April that they would remain open as long as residents wanted to stay in them.
But trade union Unite has warned there is still “a real threat” to Lisgarel and other residential care homes.
And to raise awareness of this issue, Unite has kick-started a new campaign locally.
Unite community organiser Robert Montgomery said: “Although the immediate threat to close Lisgarel was averted when Minister Poots reversed his Department’s decision to close care homes across Northern Ireland – the ban of new admissions to the facilities highlights the ongoing threat to the facility’s future.
“We want to raise awareness that the threat over these care homes has not gone away and that there is a need for a campaign to save this facility.
“The ban on new admissions is an agenda to close these care homes by stealth by gradually winding them down to the point where public opposition to the closure will be minimised.
“Unite is completely opposed to this agenda which will force older people to pay more for accommodation at private sector care facilities. This move will target the most vulnerable in our society and needs to be opposed.”
Mr Montgomery also claimed the ban on new admissions was “part of a wider attack” on the National Health Service.
He added: “The decision to halt new admissions into these public care homes reflects the privatisation agenda being promoted by the current Minister.
“Instead of closing Lisgarel, we are calling for increased investment – which would help create much needed local employment.
“Unite’s mission is to organise people to strive for a society that places equality, dignity and respect above all else.
“Unite in the community is the people’s campaign,” Mr Montgomery concluded.