Councillor doubts home can be salvaged

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‘I would be very doubtful

that Skeagh House can be salvaged’ was one councillor’s grim response to a letter from the Southern Health Trust.

As reported in last week’s Leader the Trust expects in coming weeks to have the results of investigations and analysis following the landslip that forced the evacuation of Skeagh House.

It also emerged that four of the 12 residents evacuated have now been permanently relocated to independent homes.

In an earlier letter to the council, SHSCT chief-executive Mairead McAlindensaid that as an interim measure five residents had returned home, where their needs had been assessed and appropriately met, while two relocated to another home were “happy and contented” in their interim home.

Mrs McAlinden further rejected any perception of a lack of capacity in local residential homes.

At last week’s monthly council meeting Councillor John Hanna said he was very concerned by the letter.

“I would be doubtful, reading that letter,” he said, “that Skeagh House can be salvaged.”

With relocated residents reportedly well settled, he said, he feared current circumstances might be used as an opportunity to close Skeagh House.

“To me it seems inevitable it could result in the closure of Skeagh House and that’s a very big loss to Dromore and to the whole community,” he said .

Dromore Councillor Carol Black had earlier insisted the authorities should not lose sight of the struggle facing residents’ relatives, some senior citizens themselves.

One woman, she said, was travelling 90 miles a week to see her husband and was now considering reducing the number of daily visits.

The Trust had to be contacted, she said, in respect of making provision for affected families and the landslip must not be allowed to influence any decision on Skeagh House’s future.

Of recent news that the Trust was extending a scheme offering domiciliary care referrals to the private sector, she said, “Here’s another huge money-saving exercise. People just don’t want to hear this; it’s been cut, cut, cut.”

Alliance’s Councillor Sheila McQuaid insisted there was in fact “a great shortage in availability of places in the district” and suggested Mrs McAlinden might be “gilding the lily” in respect of people being so happily resettled.

“There’s more to caring for the elderly and disabled than saving money,” she said.