Uncertainty over future of Lisgarel chalets

L-R Ted Geary with his brother-in-law William Lloyd and wife Lilian Geary. INLT-22-710-con
L-R Ted Geary with his brother-in-law William Lloyd and wife Lilian Geary. INLT-22-710-con

The Northern Trust will consider the future of sheltered housing at Lisgarel care home, which was omitted from consultation proposals.

There are currently 10 chalet-type dwellings on the Lisgarel site, which offer sheltered housing to elderly residents and people with learning disabilities.

While the Northern Trust has stated that there are currently no plans in place to close the existing chalets, or to replace them, a spokesperson did indicate that “the standard of accommodation is below that of modern supported living.”

When questioned by the Times over the long-term future of the site, he continued: “No changes are planned at present but obviously with the passage of time, consideration will have to be given to the longer term future of the current accommodation.

“Currently nine of the 10 chalets are occupied. There has been no decision taken not to admit to the chalets, however the standard of accommodation is below that of modern supported living.

“The last new tenant took up a place in April, 2010. The only enquiry since then was in April, 2013 and this did not proceed. In this case, the individual involved returned to their own home.”

On May 19, the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) approved a public consultation on the Northern Trust’s proposals that Lisgarel care home should remain open and that a ban on admissions be lifted.

When asked why the sheltered accommodation at Lisgarel had not been included in the consultation, the spokesperson responded: “The chalet accommodation on the site does not fall within the definition of ‘statutory residential home’ and was not therefore considered when the Trust’s proposals were made to the Health and Social Care Board.

“Supported Living schemes are mainly operated by housing associations and are specifically designed so that people with high levels of dependency have access to their own toilets/showers/baths, have living accommodation such as larger bedrooms that can accommodate equipment and living space to welcome relatives and visitors. The chalets in Lisgarel were not built for this purpose and are not equipped to this level.”

The trust describes the sheltered housing at the site, for which it says tenants pay “minimal rent,” as being equipped with “minimal services.” Only three of the chalets have bathrooms or a shower, with other tenants being forced to share those facilities.

However, the Northern Trust says that it has no plans to upgrade the facilities at the site.

“The Trust has no plans to develop the chalets in Lisgarel to the level of specification of a supported living scheme,” said the spokesperson.

“We should add that the Trust is not a housing provider and supported living schemes would generally be funded by the DSD and developed by housing associations. Minor improvements such as the replacement of a bath with a shower, replacement of laundry equipment and provision of ramp access have been made.”

Ted Geary, whose brother-in-law William Lloyd has lived in one of the chalets for 11 years, commented: “It would be disastrous if the sheltered housing closed. It allows the residents to be independent. They are cooking and washing for themselves but they have visits in the morning and evenings which are very important. I believe there should be more investment in the accomodation there.”

William added: “I love Lisgarel and if it closed it would be devastating. I would like to see more investment in the facilities to bring them up to date. I would like to see the future of the chalets secured.”