Derry dementia unit must stay open - MLA

Slievemore House
Slievemore House

A Derry MLA has called on the North’s Health Minister to give an assurance that Slievemore Nursing Unit will remain open.

The unit, which provides specialist care to people living with dementia was given a stay of execution last May after a decision was made by the Western Health and Social Care Trust to close the facility following recommendations by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA).

Now in response to a Assembly Question from Derry SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood, Health Minister Edwin Poots said in light of concerns over the planned closure last year he asked the Commissioner for Older People to “facilitate mediation” between residents and their families and the Western Trust.

Mr Poots said the “process remains ongoing” with a time frame for its completion yet to be agreed.

But the Foyle MLA has now called on the Minister to end the misery of those affected by the closure plans by giving an assurance that the facility will remain open.

“For the patients of Slievemore Nursing Unit and their families the uncertainty over the future of the home is unbearable, “ Mr Eastwood said.

“The unit is currently home to five elderly patients who are among the most vulnerable in our society. It is imperative that the best interests of those patients and their families are at the centre of any decision on the future of the facility.

“The Minister and the Western Trust should be in no doubt that any move to close the unit will be opposed.

“That the home was given a reprieve last May is, of course, very welcome and is testament to the steadfastness of those who lobbied tirelessly as part of the Save Slievemore Campaign.

“However, those campaigners and more importantly the residents of Slievemore Nursing Unit must now be given assurances that the home will remain open. The forced removal of vulnerable elderly people simply will not accepted.

The SDLP MLA said he is fully supportive of “the call of the families of loved ones resident in the unit who are calling for the facility to be given statutory care home status which will ensure it stays open until at least 2015.”