Consultation will still continue

Minister Edwin Poots
Minister Edwin Poots

While the removal of the powers of health Trusts to consult over the future of care homes was seen as a “step in the right direction” by campaigners, the consultation process will continue under the guidance of the HSCB’s Director of Social Services Fionnuala McAndrew.

Last week Health Minister Edwin Poots forced the trusts, including the Western Trust, to drop their current process for the closure of care homes. However a new process is now to be initiated centrally.

Mr Poots described the decision as a “fresh start” saying it had been “unacceptable that any older person feels distressed because of proposals for change”.

“Older people and their families have been left upset and alarmed.

“That should never be the by-product of a process which is all about improving the lives of older people and giving them more control,” he said.

“This is about listening to our older people and their families and our own staff. I have said I want genuine communication with every person affected and every individual to be treated with sensitivity and dignity. I expect a process which not only identifies the needs of each individual affected by proposed changes, but also understands the wishes of every single individual and their families.

“I expect these wishes to be respected, and this extends to all staff.

Mr Poots said he expected the HSCB to provide assurance that best practice is followed. This will include:

· Communication and engagement with individuals, families and staff;

· That the needs of individuals are being addressed in any proposed change and that their wishes are being listened to;

· That proposed changes are in line with policy; and

· That the pace of change is clear, appropriate and in line with policy.