Care Home Consultation Called in to Question

Admin —  August 12, 2015

Statement by Jim Allister MLA:

“I am greatly concerned that residential care homes are not being given a fair chance under the Northern Trust’s new consultation and I have written to Dr Stevens, Chief Executive of the Northern Trust, to secure answers on a range of issues.

“Since former health minister Edwin Poots first moved to close residential care homes I have continually sought to expose the slight of hand that is being deployed and to fight for our care homes.

“This slight of hand is continuing, unabated, under the new DUP health minister. This new consultation has emerged – one which the Trust would tell us is open, fair and transparent. I well remember the last farcical consultation exercise which had a pre-determined outcome, with criteria geared towards closures. Fortunately, the public engagement and backlash forced the Minister’s hand in abandoning that.

“The biggest concern was that the Minister did not lift the ban on admissions. This would have allowed each care home under threat the chance to demonstrate that there was a demand for their services. Having kept the ban on admissions, this conceded that the intention was still to close.

“In particular I am greatly concerned by the assurances given that residents will not be moved ‘as long as their needs can be safely met there’ might not be all that it appears– the get out clause for the Trust could well be under the auspices of public safety that these residents must be moved. This, along with other detailed questions, I have now asked the Chief Executive.

“This closure by stealth was not welcome then, and it is not welcome now.”


Note to editor:

Jim Allister MLA’s letter to Dr StevensCEO Northern Trust
Dear Dr Stevens,

re: Consultation Document on Statutory Residential Care – Making Choices

I have a number of queries arising in connection with the above document which I would like you to address.

1. Whereas the maximum potential  weighted score across the criteria measured was 2250, what was the maximum in respect of each measured criteria?
2. In regard to the criterion ‘Care Trends’, how was such measured in respect of statutory care homes given the moratorium on new admissions? In consequence, was the real informative here the number of admissions within the independent sector?
3. Can you provide me with the admissions figures taken into account in respect of each assessed statutory home, under the criterion ‘Care Trends’, and the admission figures taken into account in respect of each independent home in the vicinity of each statutory home, which was considered in determining the relevant ‘Care Trends’.
4. Please provide the data and information deployed to marry the information on admissions to statutory and independent homes which was deployed to produce each ‘Care Trends’ score, and explain the methodology used.
5. Clearly, the availability of alternative services (namely in the private sector) trumped the scoring obtained from applying the criteria. So, please explain how the availability of such alternatives was measured, weighted and applied in the formula which resulted, for example, in the top scoring home, Pinewood, nonetheless being targeted for closure, while the lowest scoring home is to be retained?
6. Surely, the methodology deployed is farcical when it upturns the application of objective criteria, such as commented upon in point 5 above. Isn’t the truth that prioritising private care is the Trust’s overriding concern when evaluating the future of statutory homes?

  1. In regard to the suggestion that Pinewood could be a rehabilitation centre. Is there a plan for such, or, is this merely a conceptual idea? Is there a budget for its delivery?
  2. What worth can be attached to the assurance that no existing resident will be moved when the caveat of ‘as long as their needs can be safely met there’ is attached? Isn’t that a get out clause which will be conveniently deployed to hasten closures under the guise of public safety? That is certainly what it seems to me.

I am saddened that transparently this consultation appears to be part of the same old anti-statutory home agenda and that contrary to public posturing the Trust and the department are working towards closure by stealth, as most evidently demonstrated by the crippling moratorium on new admissions.

For what it is worth, please treat this correspondence as a response to your consultation, though, I still expect a detailed response to the questions raised.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Allister MLA

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