Leading the fight to save our care homes

UNISON Northern Health Branch have led the fight to save residential homes in the Northern Trustfrom closure. 

Five public meetings have taken place over the last two weeks, with hundreds of people attending, including: residents; families; staff; politicians; and members of the public. 

UNISON members have also spoken at a number of Councils, such as Antrim, Margherafelt and Moyle, to build support for the campaign to challenge this key part of the ‘Transforming Your Care’ policy . 

The Branch, with the support of staff, families and, most importantly, residents, have been proactive in standing up for our Residential homes with petitions, meetings articles in local media. 

They have exposed the myth of the Minister’s supposed “U turn”. The Minister made it clear to the Assembly that Statutory Residential Homes are still earmarked for closure and that closure of the homes would happen over a longer period of time: 3 to 5 years.

Marjorie Trimble, Joint Branch Secretary, said: “We are asking our staff and the residents to help. We know they will be forced into private care and in many cases miles away from their families.”

“We heard loud and clear from the residents who told us they don’t want to move from their homes. Jean Faulkner, from Westlands Home, attended one of our meetings to tell us we are just like a family. While in another meeting we were told by a family member that her mother in Pinewood is petrified they will kick her out.”

“One of the most powerful interventions was a daughter of one of a resident who Minister Poots: “My mother is not for sale!”.  In every meeting we are hearing heartbreaking stories from the residents and their families, we will support them in their fight to save their homes.”

Stephanie Greenwood, Joint Branch Secrecy of UNISON Northern Health branch, said: “We are calling on the Minister and Trust Chief Executives to stop balancing spreadsheets and re-invest in services that have been so well provided within the NHS. 

They will face a backlash from the public if they are foolish enough to continue moving services to the private sector.” 

“Our next step is to support families from all the homes in setting up campaign action groups UNISON is allocating a representative to work with each group to build this campaign. All actions groups will be included in a Northern Ireland wide network”  

Anne Speed Head of Bargaining and Representation who has attended a number of the public meetings said:

“Minister Poots says that our elderly people must be listened to. Well, UNISON has been working hand in hand with residents, families and staff and can tell the Minister they all want him to keep their homes open and immediately lift the non admissions policy.”

“He must also reinstate funding for maintenance and refurbishment of homes.”

UNISON will be giving further evidence to the Assembly Health committee which has the responsibility to scrutinise all policies and strategies coming from the Minister and the Department. They have said they are going to take a closer look at Transforming  Your Care. 

UNISON welcomes this. All public representatives in the Assembly and the Councils have to listen to the public and do the right thing. That includes defending the NHS as a number one priority.

There will be further public meetings throughout the Northern Trust, organised by the Causeway Branch, and we ask you to come along and show your support.