The battle to save Lisgarel residential home in Larne from closure is going to fail unless campaigners change their tactics, a former GP has warned.
Representatives from public service union Unison came before Larne Borough Council recently to ask for its support in the fight to keep Lisgarel and other residential care homes open.
And while the local authority gave its commitment to the get behind the campaign to retain the facility, Conservative councillor Brian Dunn issued a stark warning that the campaign would fall by the wayside unless drastic changes are made.
The retired GP told lobbyists they were going about things the wrong way and felt they should not necessarily focus on keeping Lisgarel open.
Rather, he believed campaigners should work with the Northern Trust, Health Minister Edwin Poots and the Health Board to get more adequate resources for the Larne area.
Minutes of the latest policy and resources committee meeting state: “He (Cllr Dunn) said he totally supported keeping Lisgarel open, but felt that was not enough.
“Transforming Your Care was not about closing Lisgarel, it was about shifting care from acute hospitals to the community and Lisgarel would only survive if it was part of that process.
“The only way to retain Lisgarel was by giving it a place and a function in the new Health Service under TYC.”
Following the debate on the issue, Cllr Martin Wilson said he didn’t believe there was division within the council chamber on the matter.
Cllr Wilson felt the ideal situation would be to have statutory provision of residential care as part of a range of options for local people.
“He believed elderly people were best served by a range of choices and by taking one away, i.e, statutory residential care, would be doing them a great disservice.”
Cllr Mark McKinty made a proposal that the council calls on Mr Poots to invest in older people’s services in the Larne area by providing more supported living options at Lisgarel to complement and enhance the facilities. This was seconded by the chairman, Alderman Roy Beggs and will have to come back to council for full ratification.
Cllr Wilson felt the motion summed up the support that Larne Council had for Lisgarel and “showed clearly that civic leaders in the town recognised they did not want to lose the facility”.
Ald Beggs told the Union representatives they could be “satisfied” there was “commitment and support” for Lisgarel from the council.