More Consultation with Care Home Residents Crucial
Date: Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Reference: HSSPS 09/12/13
The Assembly's Health Committee has today called for the Minister to work more constructively with residents of residential care homes and follow advice from Claire Keatinge, the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland.
At its meeting today the Committee agreed to write to the Department of Health, asking for clarification on a number of issues highlighted by the Commissioner at a meeting with Committee members earlier in the week.
The Committee also agreed to write to the Office of the First Minister/deputy First Minister to see whether their responsibility for older people extends to having some oversight role in respect of care homes.
Chairperson of the Health Committee, Sue Ramsey MLA said: "This whole episode around the decisions to close most residential care homes has demonstrated the problems that occur when proper consultation does not take place.
"While we are pleased that the Minister has put a stop to the imminent closure of these homes and that regional guidance is being developed, we are also very concerned at the distress being caused to vulnerable older people and their families. This is a situation that must not arise again.
"There are a number of issues that we will raise with the Minister and the Department. Specifically we wish to know whether the advice that the Minister received from the Commissioner for Older People more than a year ago was passed onto the Board and the Trusts.
"We also would like to be assured that the Minister will follow Ms Keatinge's advice and write to all current residents in Trust run care homes advising them of the current situation. Finally we want to be sure that training will be given to front line staff in terms of discussing options with residents.
"This issue will not go away and, as a Committee, we will be asking for updates from the Minister, Department and Board to ensure that we provide certainty for our older people."