A local meals on wheels provider has been forced to withdraw its services as a result of cutbacks, it has been claimed this week.
Older people served by Domestic Care face making alternative arrangements after the withdrawal.
Domestic Care claims it can no longer deliver meals to clients in Banbridge, Craigavon, Armagh, Dungannon and Newry & Mourne due to “funding cutbacks”, which mean the operation is “no longer economically viable”.
The service will end on July 14. Four members of staff will be made redundant.
The company explained that it was compelled to close its community meals operation in the region because the Southern Trust was “systematically cutting back on the numbers of people eligible for the service, with a reduction in service from 4,300 meals per week at its peak to just 600.”
Domestic Care chief executive, Lesley Megarity, said, “The Trust has run down the service so much that it is no longer sustainable.
“This is a tragedy both for our staff and clients.
“We have been providing high-quality, nutritionally balanced meals to vulnerable people for almost 20 years – and our service gets satisfaction rates in excess of 90 per cent.
“Yet this was always about much more than that: it is also about checking that our clients are safe and well. Sadly the Trust has raised the access criteria for people to qualify for community meals so high that not a single older person has been referred to the service in the past year.”
The Southern Trust said it would provide alternative arrangements for Domestic Care clients from July 15. A spokeswoman said, “We cannot meet all needs within our current funding and many people are supported to live at home through a partnership of family, carers, the person’s own resources and Trust services.
The Trust continues to help those most in need by providing domiciliary care packages, including a meals service, to those with eligible critical and substantial needs.
“As demand for services for older people continues to increase all trusts have to make sure that every pound spent is helping those most in need.
“We must make sure that the services offered support individuals to improve and maintain their independence.”
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