Facebook page set up to fight home closure

Westlands Residential Home Cookstown.INMM1713-388SR
Westlands Residential Home Cookstown.INMM1713-388SR

ALMOST 200 people have joined an online campaign to fight the proposed closure of Westlands Residential Home.

The Facebook page was set up just hours after the Northern Health and Social Care Trust announce its intention to close the elderly home by November.

Eight other homes in the trust area have also been earmarked for closure meaning all nine of area’s statutory homes could close by 2018.

The Cookstown facility is currently home to 16 residents, and a similar number of staff are facing the prospect of losing their jobs as a result of the proposals.

Relatives of those who currently reside in the state-run car home have been leaving messages on the Westlands Residential Home social networking page.

Des Allen, who now lives in Sweden wrote: “I think this is a PURE disgrace....my Mum lived there for many years and it was her home. These elderly people have NO choice but the politicians have!!!!! ...and it’s all about saving money. Saving whose money???”

Gareth Cuddy added: “Mum has worked there most of her working life in one big family at Westlands.

“So sad that they are closing it. It’s become an institution for so many people over the years. Will the alternate care be better after they shut the doors... I think not”.

Local lady Colleen Black said the closure of the home would be a great loss to the area,

She said: “My mum has been there for respite and was treated with respect by all staff, for which I will always be grateful.

It will be a shame if it closes. It is home to people who live there, not just a residential home, but their home!”

Former care home employee Gail Work said: “Gail York I had the pleasure of working in Westland few yrs ago and it was such a brilliant home staff are all brilliant it will be a great loss if it closes,”

Westlands will be one of the first state-run homes to close in the Trust area, along with Pinewood in Ballymena.

Rathmoyle in Moyle has been pinpointed for closure by January 2014, and the remaining seven are set to close sometime between 2014 and 2018.

UNISON Regional Organiser, Joe McCusker, said the union had called an urgent meeting with the Trust over the proposals.

“This will remove any choice for vulnerable people to be cared for in an NHS care home,” he said.

“The Northern Health Trust needs to explain why they have taken the decision to close all its residential care homes.”

“This is a deliberate move by the Trust to withdraw from residential home care provision and leave the care of the most vulnerable in our society in the hands of private sector providers whose main aim is to maximise profits and satisfy their shareholders”, Mr McCusker added.

Details of the plans were revealed at Trust Board Meeting on Thursday.

In a statement the Trust said about the closures: “At present the trust manages nine residential homes and we propose that no more long-term admissions are made to any of our homes.

“We would intend to close up to 50% of our homes over the next three years and in the longer term stop providing statutory residential care entirely. Some private residential care will be available.”