The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Claire Keatinge, has welcomed the news that residents of all 18 residential homes that had previously been earmarked for closure will not have to move to another home, however she has called for more clarity from the Health Minister on the announcement.

Claire Keatinge said:

"The number of older people in Northern Ireland is set to increase by 75% in the next thirty years, with more and more people living longer and healthier lives. As this population expands, it is essential that government is equipped to deal with the needs of an ageing population, and that appropriate residential care settings are available to those who want or need them.

"I am delighted that the Minister has listened to the views of the residents in coming to the decision to keep all statutory residential homes open. The views of those living in residential care must be at the heart of any decisions going forward; residents must not be pawns in the endgame of changing services for older people.

"It remains unclear as to whether this news means that the homes affected will admit new residents, and whether there will be refurbishments of the current homes to ensure they are of a satisfactory standard for those who will remain in the homes. I am calling on the Minister to clarify this as a matter of urgency, as he must ensure that this process is handled sensitively for older people, families and staff working in residential homes. I am also asking him to review the needs of future generations of older people as a matter of urgency, and to ensure there is unequivocally clear planning going forward on this crucial matter.

"Further to this, I am asking that he write individually to each resident of the 18 homes to clarify what exactly the announcement means in relation to their future."

"I hope that the Minister will apply the same logic of people before policy in considering the future of other elements of Transforming Your Care and its implementation, and that the views of today's and tomorrow's older people form the basis for any future decisions made."