Pinewood could be turned into ‘a community rehabilitation unit’ under fresh proposals for the future of numerous Northern Ireland care homes.
The Ballymena residential home on the Frys Road is included in a new list of proposals for statutory care homes throughout the province drawn up by the Health and Social Care Board.
It proposes the future role of Pinewood “to be changed to provide a community rehabilitation unit for the Antrim/Ballymena area” and that “cessation of permanent admissions will be maintained”.
It emerged on Wednesday that the Health and Social Care Board have approved for further consultation, the five Health and Social Care Trusts’ proposals on the future role and function of their Statutory Residential Care Homes for older people.
The Board stated that the review of these homes is still an ongoing process and no final decisions have yet been made.
The proposals approved now mean appropriate local consultation will be progressed by Trusts.
The proposals outline that some Trust Statutory Residential Care Homes will be retained, some will be considered for alternative use and others are proposed for closure.
The Board assured current permanent residents that the proposals approved will not affect them as the Board is firmly committed to the former Minister, Edwin Poots’ MLA, requirement that they would be able to remain in their existing home for as long as they wish, and as long as their care needs can continue to be met there.
Reacting to the news, TUV leader Jim Allister said he would continue to campaign to keep Pinewood open and suggested it was not a ‘coincidence’ that news of possible care home closures had broken just after
the general election.
He said: “News that Pinewood residential care home in Ballymena is once again marked for closure will disappoint residents, their families and those who have campaigned so hard to keep the facility open.
“It is difficult to believe that it is coincidental that this news should break immediately after an election rather than before.
“The fact that the DUP never lifted the moratorium on new admissions meant that the long term viability of the home was always in question.
“For my part, I will continue to campaign to keep Pinewood open and resist these latest attempts to close it.”
A copy of the Board’s report, Trusts’ proposals and LCGs assessments can be viewed or downloaded from the Health and Social Care Board’s website at: http://www.hscboard.hscni.net