Trust moves to reassure families

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The Southern Health and Social Care Trust has refuted claims it broke its word and lost public confidence over the recent closing of homes turmoil.

Responding to criticism from MLA Samuel Gardiner, the Trust’s director of Older People and Primary Care Services, Angela McVeigh, this week moved to reassure residents and their families.

“The Southern Trust wishes to clarify that it has not made any announcement regarding a consultation to close its statutory residential homes,” Ms McVeigh told the Leader.

She added, “Following the Minister’s statement to the Assembly on March 19 when he endorsed a minimum 50 per cent reduction in statutory residential homes, the Trust board, at its meeting in March, made a decision to suspend permanent admissions to all five homes in the Trust area in advance of a public consultation.

“I can also confirm there has not been any discussions with residents or relatives about any change to their care, as this would have been inappropriate given we have made no decisions on home closures”.

Ms McVeigh went on to say the Minister had since asked the Health and Social Care Board to develop a regional approach on best practice regarding how consultation should be carried out on the future of statutory residential care homes to ensure any change was managed with “utmost sensitivity and dignity”.

She stressed the Board and Trust were “committed” to ensuring that all older people receive the care they need now and into the future.

“Older people and their families are at the centre of future plans and they have their voice heard in how their care needs are met,” she said. “Minister Poots wrote personally to all residents of statutory residential homes reassuring them on this new process”.

The director of Older People and Primary Care added that Mr Gardiner had since been contacted and asked to advise any relatives or residents who have raised concerns to contact the Trust directly for further clarification on the matter.

In an edition of the Leader a few weeks ago, Mr Gardiner was excoriating in his criticism of how elderly residents had been treated.

Speaking during an Assembly debate on ‘Transforming Your Care’, the MLA referred specifically to Crozier House in Banbridge and said “lasting damage” had been done in terms of patient confidence.