A retired nurse has called on the Western Trust to make sure that older people in residential homes are never again threatened with losing their home.
Derry man Martin Gallagher was speaking as he addressed the Western Trust Board at its extraordinary meeting to discuss consultation on proposed Savings Plan.
The plan had initially included a proposal to close either Rectory Field or William Street home in the Waterside and move residents into a single facility. Both homes have also previously been threatened with closure. This particular proposal was scrapped, however, after additional funding was secured.
Mr Gallagher said: “Older people have always been the backbone of our society having come through two world wars and having worked all their lives to make ends meet within their families,” he said. “During their working lives and even as pensioners they have paid their taxes so that they can avail of such things as excellent health care.
“Residential care homes for the elderly are coming under fire from austerity and cuts which this Board is being asked to make. Asking or moving our elderly from the care homes which they see as their home must be treated with utter contempt and is disgraceful to say the least.”
Mr Gallagher warned that residents relocated after other homes were closed “became so stressed and worried that it had a detrimental effect on their health.”
“If I could caused any distress to any clients in my care I would be disciplined or sacked but it is ok for those at a higher level to make drastic decisions that can only cause mayhem and distress to our elderly people. I say to the board members here today have you no compassion in your hearts for the elderly? Let them live their lives out in the place they call home.”
Mr Gallagher said older people living at home meanwhile rely on the daily help provided by domiciliary health workers. “They do an extraordinary job of providing excellent health care to those in need,” he said, adding:
“However the care provided currently stands at 15 minutes per person and this is not good enough for older people relying on daily help.
“This needs immediate review as proper care and attention cannot be delivered in such a short space of time.
“Domiciliary care work needs to stay within the Trust and not be allowed to slip into the private sector. These workers need be respected and given proper pay and terms of work for the excellent work they do in our community.”