East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs, UUP Councillor Andrew Wilson and former Mayor of Larne Martin Wilson spoke out after the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) approved a public consultation on the Northern Trust’s proposals that the home should remain open and that a ban on admissions be lifted.
Stressing that no decision has been made, the HSCB said that the admissions policy will not change pending the consultation.
The board also said the decision will not affect current permanent residents, who can remain in their existing home for as long as they wish, and as long as their care needs can continue to be met there.
All three local politicians support the Friends of Lisgarel group, who have been campaigning against the closure of the facility which was mooted under the Transforming Your Care programme.
Mr Martin Wilson commented: “There needs to be a menu of options for older people locally given the fact that Larne has a higher than average elderly population.
“The people here will need provision going forward. including those who want to stay at home and those who want to use nursing homes.
“The earlier proposal was wrong and now with further thought I hope they will see the wisdom of retention of residential care for those that need it.
The former Larne councillor was part of a group of protestors who walked out of public meeting with the Northern Trust over Lisgarel in 2009.
He continued: “It is a long time for relatives, staff and families to be living under a feeling of uncertainty. It has been very stressful and a lot of residents have passed away.
“I would encourage people to respond to the consultation. The war has not been won just yet. Larne people need to make their voices heard.”
East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs commented: “I am encouraged that they are not consulting on Lisgarel’s closure, which is potentially positive for the future. “It is well regarded by residents and I have had family members and close friends who have had to rely on its exemplary supportive service that the staff provide.
“The level of care is what you would expect from a family member. I have no doubt that the community will support the continuation of Lisgarel, it is important that they take the time to respond to the consultation electronically or in writing to show clearly that the community value the places in Lisgarel, not only in the residential home but in the attached homes for independent living.”
Larne UUP Councillor Andrew Wilson added: “This is a victory for the people who did not give up when Lisgarel was again threatened with closure two years ago. The Friends of Lisgarel Group was key to campaigning against closure with public meetings, rallies, petitions, and engaging with the health authorities. I am proud that my late mother, in her last summer, played her part by going door-to-door in her neighbourhood gathering signatures against closure.
“We need to start pressing for investment in health facilities in Larne, not just fighting against cuts. ”
A Northern Trust representative told The Times that the consultation would get underway this summer.