Council talks on Care Homes consultation

Ballymena Councillors are today (Tuesday) meeting with health chief Fionnuala McAndrew to discuss the public consultation on the Transforming Your Care - Consultation of Residential Care homes document on the future of state-run facilities.

Twelve councillors are to meet with Fionnuala McAndrew, the Director of Social Care and Children with HSCB (Health and Social Care Board).

Ms. McAndrew is leading the process for the HSCB which was tasked with taking responsiblity for controversial care home closures following a public backlash last year.

Under Transforming Your Care, NHS services will focus on helping elderly people to live in their own homes for as long as possible. It is understood the reforms could see up to 50% of statutory residential homes closing over a five-year period.

Last May there was fierce criticism after two Health and Social Care Trusts announced an intention to shut all of their residential homes leaving hundreds of elderly people with nowhere to live.

Health Minister Edwin Poots, who had to face down calls for his resignation over his handling of the crisis, was forced to do a U-turn on the emotive issue.

In November, Ms McAndrew announced a new two-stage consultation process on statutory residential care homes for older people in NI.

There are currently 20 such homes, accommodating 283 residents, across the province potentially affected by the consultation - eight in the Northern Trust area, including Pinewood in Ballymena.

The proposed criteria detailed in the consultation document are - availability and accessibility of alternative services, quality of care, care trends and best use of public money.

The HSCB have indicated that they would welcome suggestions about how the proposed criteria could cover the choices that residents, their families and carers want to make.

In the first stage of the consultation process, the HSCB will be seeking views on the proposed criteria. When the criteria have been agreed by the Minister, the HSCB will ask Trusts to use the criteria to make proposals about changes to their homes.