Families will fight Thackeray closure plans

Liz McPeak from Limavady with her 83-year-old mum, Aeileen Hunter who calls Thackeray Place her home. Ms McPeak says if Thackeray closes it would devastate her mum. (0304SJ1) Photo: Sheena Jackson
Liz McPeak from Limavady with her 83-year-old mum, Aeileen Hunter who calls Thackeray Place her home. Ms McPeak says if Thackeray closes it would devastate her mum. (0304SJ1) Photo: Sheena Jackson

Families whose loved ones are residents of a Western Trust care home in Limavady under threat of closure have vowed to “fight tooth and nail” to keep it open.

Senior staff from the Trust met with families, residents and staff last night at Thackeray Place in Limavady to tell them of the recommendation to close the Ballyclose Street residential care home.

The facility has been operating in Limavady for at least 30 years. The ‘Journal’ understands there are 22 staff, full and part time, and the home is at capacity with more than two dozen residents.

After what was described as a “heated meeting,” family members voiced their anger at being consulted just two days before the recommendation is taken to a board meeting on Thursday.

“We asked them ‘why?’ and we were told all these things about the rooms and the building. We were told there is planning permission granted for a 50-room extension at a private care home outside Limavady” said Josie McCann, whose 99-year-old mum Letty is a resident of Thackeray. “How did they know that, to put up another 50 bedrooms? I am angry, fit to be tied. It is a slap in the face, and everybody is angry.”

Mrs McCann said her mother worked hard all her life, and is paying for her care at Thackeray “and now they say she has to go to another health care home”.

“While I’m standing on two feet, I am not moving my mother. I am not doing it. My mother is in her 100th year and I don’t know how much longer she will live, but I would like to think she will live in peace and contentment but, if they proceed with this, she will live her last months, or whatever time she has left, in distress,” added Mrs. McCann.

Sisters Liz McPeak and Helen Houston from Limavady say their 83-year-old mum Aeileen Hunter would be devastated if she has to move. She has been a resident at Thackeray for a year and a half. “To move her, well I think it would put her back, and she would deteriorate,” said Liz. “It is devastating. We have other siblings but they live in England, so it’s up to us to fight it, but I think they are going to close Thackeray.”

Helen says closure of Thackeray would also be a huge blow to the town.

“Not just for residents, as is it their home, but there are others who come here and it is part of their life. We’ll fight it. That’s all we can do,” said Helen.

Ken Logan says his mum, 82-year-old Sarah Logan is petrified of what could happen.

“People have worked hard, paid their taxes and they reach this stage in life and this is the way they’re treated. When pressed tonight about why there would be a recommendation to close Thackeray the answer was the room dimensions aren’t right and the environment isn’t right, but the home is full and there is a waiting list for it. There is a need for it, but they just make a sweeping decision, and then say it’s going out for consultation. Just watch the outcome of this. Government machinery and policy are against us. Care? What kind of care is it when you see elderly people devastated.”

SDLP and DUP councillors from Limavady spoke with some families, staff and residents after the meetings last night.

“We are committed to do what we can, but it’s criminal residents are being forced into this situation,” SDLP councillor Michael Coyle told the ‘Journal’. “It’s devastating for them.”

DUP Colr. Alan Robinson said: “We do not want to see this home go, and it will not go without a fight. There is just devastation amongst people here tonight and their views are clear - ‘no, we don’t want this to happen’. We need to lead the charge as a Council and ask for the support of everyone in this town.”

Sinn Fein’s Sean McGlinchey said: “I phoned Thackeray on Tuesday morning and told staff anything we can do we will. Thackeray is a vital part of Limavady and it is vital for our elderly people. We cannot allow this to happen. We have to fight this.”

It is understood if the proposal is accepted by the Board on Thursday it will go out for a 13-week consultation.

The health minister announced in February that over 50% of residential homes would close under government plans. No one from the Western Trust was immediately available for comment after last night’s meeting in Limavady. However, in a statement to the ‘Journal’ on Monday, a spokesperson for the Western Trust said: “The Trust has developed a proposal which will be taken to a Trust Board meeting later this week. The Western Trust currently has five residential homes within its remit in the Strabane, Derry and Limavady Council areas. One of these homes, Seymour Gardens is registered as an EMI home (specifically for dementia sufferers), and as such is outside the consideration of TYC proposal. The remaining four general residential homes have 128 beds in total. As of 8 April 2013, 73 of these beds are occupied by permanently placed residents. “