Anxious time in new battle for Thackeray

Residents and staff of Thackery Place protesting outside the meeting at Roe Valley Centre.  (DER3208JB003)
Residents and staff of Thackery Place protesting outside the meeting at Roe Valley Centre. (DER3208JB003)

A fresh consultation on the future of residential care homes, including Thackeray Place in Limavady, starts in October, the Health and Social Care Board said this week.

The announcement follows what was described as a “fiasco” earlier this year when residents in four care homes in the Western Trust area, including Thackeray were told their homes could close under ‘Transforming Your Care’ proposals.

A public outcry forced Health Minister Edwin Poots to intervene and strip the Trusts of their decision-making powers, pending a review of how the process would be handled.

The HSCB has now announced they are ready to begin the consultation process again, with the first stage in a two-part process, due to begin in October of this year.

Care homes could find out their fate as early as February 2014. However, some families who have loved ones at Thackeray Place believe “the decision is already made”, and the consultation is “simply going through the motions”.

Liz McPeake, whose 84-year-old mum Helen Hunter is cared for at Thackeray, says: “We just don’t know what is going to happen in the future. It’s hard to say, but there is the belief that it’s simply delaying the inevitable and they’ve their minds made up. I suppose, we just have to wait and see, and keep our fingers crossed that Thackeray will stay open.” The HSCB have stressed they will consult with residents, families and staff of the care homes, and treat the matter with sensitivity, but Ken Logan whose 82-year-old mum Sarah lives at Thackeray says: “How can you sensitively tell a person in their 80s or 90s ‘I’m going to close your home, and you and the people you have lived with for years will have to go wherever you can find a place’? They don’t need this kind of distress, and I can’t see how it will achieve anything fair.”

A staff member of Thackeray Place said this week’s announcement was expected.

“At the end of the day we are still very much in the dark. I mean, they’re not telling us anything we don’t know - that they’ll consult with everyone and it will be a long process. It’s just hard to know what to expect,” said the staff member. “The residents don’t know what to make of it. Their biggest concern is ‘are we going to be kept open?”

The staff member added: “There is a big level of anxiety among everybody. The worry is the outcome of the consultation. All we can do is wait and see, and stay hopeful Thackeray Place will have a future.”