Thackeray Place in Limavady and Rectory Fields in Londonderry are among a host of statutory residential care homes for the elderly facing the axe, thanks to one of the ‘key proposals’ in the controversial ‘Transforming Your Care’ health care reform plan.
Transforming Your Care, drawn up in response to the biggest review of Northern Ireland’s public healthcare system in a generation, sets out clear plans to cut the number of public sector care home places by “at least” 50 per cent. In fact, one of the “key proposals” is: “A major reduction in residential accommodation for older people, over the next five years.”
Despite the clear plans to cut care home places in Transforming Your Care, neither Limavady Borough Council nor Derry City Council made any response during the public consultation exercise. Health Minister Edwin Poots has said all councils were “invited to respond.” Of Northern Ireland’s 26 councils, 19 did respond. Limavady Borough Council was not one of them. Derry City Council was not one of them.
Now that Thackeray Place is amongst those care homes facing the axe, Limavady Borough Council has expressed “strong opposition” to the plans. However, the public consultation exercise ended long ago and ‘Transforming Your Care’ has since become firmly established as the basis for the future of healthcare across Northern Ireland - including the plan to cut the number of public sector care homes, such as Thackeray Place in Limavady and Rectory Fields in Londonderry.
Those two care homes - along with William Street Residential Home in Londonderry and Greenfield in Strabane - were earmarked for closure at a public meeting of the Western Trust’s Board back in April. However, Health Minister Edwin Poots decided to strip the responsibility for care home closures from each of the regional Health and Social Care Trusts shortly afterwards, describing the way the potential closures had been handled as “disastrous.” However, the Minister still intends to implement the proposals set forth in Transforming Your Care - including the cuts to public sector care home places. Indeed, residents received letters earlier this week from the Director of Social Care at the Health and Social Care Board, Fionnuala McAndrews.
In her letter, Ms McAndrews states: “The Health and Social Care Board firmly believes that our services need to change in line with Transforming Your Care.” She adds that Transforming Your Care aims to “enable (the elderly) to stay at home and remain independent where possible.”
Frances Anderson from the Waterside in Londonderry, whose mother has been a resident at Thackeray Place Care Home in Limavady for around three years, said that “it would probably have helped” if either Limavady Borough Council or Derry City Council had responded to the Transforming Your Care plans during the public consultation exercise. She did, however, acknowledge and thank each of the individual councillors in Limavady for their support for the home since the possibility of closure first emerged.