Uncertain future for care home residents

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Elderly residents of a Derry care home have been told they have just weeks to find new accommodation.

More than a dozen people living in the St Oliver’s Unit of the Nazareth House Care Home on Bishop Street have to move because they require nursing care which Nazareth House - a residential home - is not registered to provide.

It’s believed the move follows an inspection of the unit by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA).

The family of one resident told the ‘Journal’: “We’ve been told we have until around the middle of February to find a new home for our mum. We’ve also been informed that, if we can’t find anywhere in Derry for her, we may have to consider Strabane. Is this any way to treat elderly people in the 21st century?”

Last night Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey said he had requested an urgent meeting with management at the home and had written to the Department of Health in an effort to “establish the facts”.

“Our concern is that the long-term viability of an institution that has been at the heart of the Bishop Street community caring for the elderly for many years may be at risk,” he said. “Families are rightly concerned that their loved ones may be moved.”

When contacted yesterday, the manager of the home said she was unable to comment and referred any queries to the RQIA.

In answer to our query, a spokesperson for the RQIA said: “St Oliver’s Unit in Nazareth House, Derry, is registered with RQIA as a residential care home. In the course of the last six months, RQIA has imposed a range of legislative requirements on the home that relate to issues of management of the service and the non-compliance with regulations. On January 11, 2012, RQIA placed notices of failure to comply with regulations onto the home, relating to the management and care within the home. The management of Nazareth House is obliged to ensure full compliance with regulations by February 10, 2012.

“RQIA takes the issue of enforcement very seriously and, to date, service providers generally respond in a positive manner to enforcement action, thus achieving significant improvements for the users of health and social care services in Northern Ireland.”

The Western Health Trust (WHSCT), which has a number of clients in Nazareth House, said it was unaware of any plans to run down or close the St. Oliver’s Unit.

A WHSCT spokesperson - who pointed out that the Bishop Street care home was not a Trust facility - added: “For some residents, their needs increase to the stage where they require care in a nursing home environment. Nazareth House is not registered to provide nursing care to its residents.

“The Trust keeps the needs of its clients under review. Where the needs of an individual changes and nursing home care is required, the Trust support clients and families in making the change of accommodation. Every effort is made to ensure such transitions are as smooth as possible and cause the least disruption for clients.”

Families with loved ones in the St Oliver’s Unit told the ‘Journal’ they were “shocked” to be given “such devastating news”.

One woman said: “We were called to a meeting at Nazareth House at which we were told our mother will have to find new accommodation. We were told that, as my mother requires nursing care, she can no longer be accommodated at St Oliver’s as it’s a residential home and not a nursing home. We’ve been told that we have until around the middle of February to do this.

“It’s absolutely shocking. The family was so happy with the care mum was receiving at Nazareth House - and now this. To be told we have to find alternative accommodation for my mum is devastating.”

Another relative said: “As things stand, my father, who is elderly and lives nearby, visits my mum three or four times a day. However, if she has to be moved somewhere else how can he, who doesn’t drive, be expected to make his way there? Do they expect him to walk? It was even mentioned to us that, if we can’t find accommodation in Derry, we may have to consider Strabane. It’s an intolerable situation.”