Armstrong says Trust failing to provide appropriate care for older patients

Alliance Strangford MLA Kellie Armstrong has said the South-Eastern Health and Social Care Trust (SEHSCT) is failing to provide appropriate domiciliary care for older patients along the Ards Peninsula.

Ms Armstrong said she had been approached by several constituents who were concerned about older family members being left without such care for weeks on end. She added the situation was pushing many older people into financial difficulties, as they had to provide their own care due to the SEHSCT being “unable or unwilling” to do so.

“The SEHSCT has a statutory duty to provide care but have done little to nothing to address the lack of provision currently available in rural areas. One reason given to me was the contracted care provider has pulled out, which could be acceptable if this issue wasn’t a growing one for the past few months.

“The number of people without a permanent care package here has been growing – with over 60 now – but to date, the SEHSCT has been unable to get a regular care provider, instead relying on circulating particular ‘cases’ on a list which may or may not be picked up by care providers, who have the capacity to temporarily do the work.

“I have been told the SEHSCT don’t have the staff available to provide emergency care for rural areas, despite providing emergency care for larger towns in the areas such as Newtownards. It appears no consideration has been given to rural-proof provision to ensure rural dwellers receive an equal level of care as their peers living in towns.

“Constituents have informed me in a number of case the SEHSCT’s solution was to offer to move the older person into residential care, which is not a practical solution – it would involve the older person being moved to a home many miles from their family, alongside fears their home may be sold to pay for care.

“The SEHSCT does not appear to consider the impact on the individual, being more concerned with blaming the contractor, the cost or moving the person into residential care miles from where they live. The Ards Peninsula is only one area, but I am concerned this is being repeated in other rural areas. Our older people are being failed by a system which should be protecting and caring for them.”

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