Staff and residents lobby Northern Ireland Assembly in bid to save residential care homes

‘We cannot afford to walk away from the care needs of our elders – and nor can our politicians’

UNISON held a public rally at Stormont this week to lobby members of Northern Ireland’s legislative assembly (MLAs) over the planned closure of 10 NHS residential care homes.

Delegations of residents and relatives from the homes targeted for closure, along with UNISON members met with MLAs on the steps of Parliament Buildings, in Belfast, urging them to back the union’s campaign against the closures.

The rally was addressed by UNISON regional secretary Patricia McKeown, along with care home residents and their families, and care home staff.

Regional organiser Joe McCusker, explained: “This rally was a culmination of a two-year UNISON-led campaign with residents and staff.

“A greater number of homes were initially targeted, but some were reprieved as a result of the campaign. The 10 still in danger of closure are now our main focus.”

The union has continued to hold public meetings and rallies across Northern Ireland, presenting the case to local council meetings.

“Attendance from local communities and MLAs has been consistent and strong,” Mr McCusker said.

“There has been overwhelming support to keep these residential care homes within the NHS and to stop the health minister’s plans for closure.  We now need to see this translated into direct action from Stormont.

“We are seeking a pledge from MLAs to send a clear message to the minister that he needs to reverse his policy.  We cannot afford to walk away from the care needs of our elders – and nor can our politicians.”