The Commissioner for Older People, Claire Keatinge, has welcomed the statement from the Health and Social Care Board which clarifies the criteria which Trusts must use to make decisions in relation to the future of statutory residential care homes, but has said that there are still questions which need answered.

The Commissioner said:
“I am pleased that the Health and Social Care Board’s consultation on the future of residential care has acknowledged the need for clear criteria and the involvement of older people in decisions affecting them. The residents of these homes have lived with the uncertainty of not knowing if they will have to move from their home for the past year, and so this news should reassure them that they can continue to reside there for as long as they so wish, or as long as it meets their care needs."
“Unanswered questions remain as to whether there will be investment in the homes that are in need of refurbishment to ensure that they are of an appropriate standard and that they are fit to provide good quality of care. It also remains to be seen if residents will be left in “empty homes,” where individual Trust’s may decide against new admissions. It is essential that the homes can continue to thrive as a community, but if no new admissions are permitted, it is difficult to see how this can be maintained.
“Whilst current residents can take some comfort in the fact that they will be able to remain in their home if they so wish, there is nothing to give future older people confidence that a choice of statutory residential accommodation will continue to be available to them.
“Tomorrow’s older people must be assured that there will always be sufficient capacity of residential care available to meet the needs of those who require it.
“As an ageing population, it is essential that plans are in place to ensure that tomorrow’s older people are offered choice of accommodation, and that their needs can be supported to allow them to live dignified and fulfilled lives.”
For further information, contact Anna McAlister, Communications and Engagement Manager, Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland.
Tel: 02890 890897 / 07885 979803