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Consultation Response

Carers need answers on care home closures

29 August 2013

In her first blog post, Helen Ferguson talks about care home closures. "There is great confusion about the fate of residential care facilities in Northern Ireland" she says "and residents, families and carers are worried."

Carers Northern Ireland gave a strong warning about the potential impact on carers and their families from the implementation of Transforming Your Care (TYC). Even at the consultation stage it was clear that the phrase 'home at the hub' was likely to result in a reduction of state provided residential care. What was not clear, was the speed and depth of this reduction.

There is great confusion about the fate of residential care facilities in Northern Ireland. With some Trusts announcing plans to close all their residential facilities, residents, families and carers are worried.

TYC's philosophy of delivering care in communities rather than hospitals and residential settings is a good one. Carers have long understood that the people they look after are better served by being cared for within their own homes. However, families are not always able to take on a caring role, nor should they be expected to. Carers are already doing so much to help their loved ones to have a good quality of life, but we need to do everything possible to ensure they are not run into the ground by the pressure of maintaining a home as the 'hub of care'.

For some people, being looked after within their own homes is not a realistic option and state run residential care homes have always played a vital role in this regard. As the BBC has highlighted in recent reports, people often come to regard residential homes as their own home and have a balance of support, independence and community that would be hard to replicate. They are understandably anxious about the future.

In the longer term we need more supported accommodation such as the Fold model, with nursing home facilities available for those with the most complex care needs. We need safe places where people can be cared for to allow families a break from caring – even more so as home increasingly becomes 'the hub'.

For the shorter term we ask why can people not be allowed to remain in the places they have come to call their home and live out their lives in dignity? The upheaval and uncertainty that now exists surely can't be the 'transformation' that TYC had in mind...

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