Residents delighted at care homes reprieve

Residents and staff at William Street Residential Care Home have expressed their delight that they can stay put following the surprise reprieve granted by Health Minister Edwin Poots.

William Street was one of four homes in the North West whose residents have been told they can now remain where they are for as long as they want and as long as their care needs can be met.

The move is a u-turn on the proposals announced a year ago to close residential homes.

In the western area, over 70 residents and 100 staff were affected by the proposed closures across William Street and Rectory Field in the Waterside, Greenfield in Strabane and Thackeray Place in Limavady.

The announcement sparked a massive backlash with elderly residents, carers and relatives leading a campaign to have the move reversed, resulting in Mr Poots ordered a review of the move.

Speaking to the Journal, William Street resident Elizabeth Shannon said she was delighted that after a year of uncertainty everyone has now been given some positive news.

Elizabeth, who is in her 80s and who moved from her home in the Northlands area into William Street five and half years ago, said:

“The past year was terrible really. Then I heard Mr Poots on the radio say what he said. I really couldn’t believe it. I burst out of the room and came looking for some of the staff. I really couldn’t believe it.

“The day we were told the bad news was the first of May 2013. I was very, very angry. It was always at the back of your mind- it’s closing and now to hear this news it was really unbelievable and very welcome. It couldn’t be more welcome for us and the staff- who are just brilliant and would do anything for you- and the people in the other homes as well. We couldn’t be more happy.”

Fellow resident James Boyle, who is also in his 80s, added: “It means people can stay where they are and they don’t have to move. It’s peace of mind.

“The care here is excellent, the food is excellent.”

Acting senior care assistants Kieran Page and Brenda King said the Health Minister’s announcement came as a great relief to everyone in the home.

Brenda said: “There has been a cloud in the home and for the residents it has been awful. You felt for them. But it is fantastic now to get this news. This is their home.”

Kieran added: “There has been that worry about where is everybody going to end up. There are people here for 30 years, and most of the staff are here long term as well. That gives you a sign of how good this home is- we all work together so well.”

The staff and residents said they wanted to thank everyone who had rallied to their side over the past year .