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Care home residents in limbo as decision to be made

By Victoria O'Hara

Published 02/07/2015

Joyce Craig with her son Christopher, a resident of Stewart Memorial in Bangor
Joyce Craig with her son Christopher, a resident of Stewart Memorial in Bangor

Parents of residents at a care home under threat have spoken of their fears it will close after being left in "seven months of limbo".

Stewart Memorial in Bangor, Co Down, was earmarked for closure last November because of claims it was not financially viable.

But after the owners postponed the closure to carry out three further reports on its future, the families are still waiting for a decision.

The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, which is involved in funding care packages for residents, says it has also contacted the Northern Ireland Institute for the Disabled (NIID), which runs the home, to "express concern" regarding the delay.

However, a meeting had been scheduled to take place between the trust and the NIID yesterday.

The NIID has confirmed it has received the expert reports but no further details will be made public until residents and their families are contacted. A consultation process will then be launched.

Joyce Craig, whose 23-year-old son Christopher is a resident at the home, said the families felt they were not getting any clear information.

"That was seven months ago," she said.

"The Friends of Stewart Memorial have asked numerous times for a meeting with the trustees to have some sort of explanation as to why this wonderful home should be closed and they offered their help to keep it open."

Ms Craig explained the families and residents of Stewart Memorial received a letter on February 9, 2015 from the then chief executive office of the NIID stating "unfortunately there is much uncertainty regarding the financial viability at Stewart Memorial House due to escalating running costs".

Ms Craig, the Belfast Telegraph Mother of the Year 2015, said: "It is our loved ones' home and this is why the families are fighting so hard to have the NIID reverse their decision and keep Stewart Memorial open, but these are words The Friends of Stewart Memorial have yet to hear."

In a response from the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust a spokeswoman said: "The South Eastern HSC Trust has not received an update on NIID's decision in respect of Stewart Memorial.

"The trust wrote to NIID to express concern regarding the delay, and requested a meeting which has now been arranged for July 1, 2015. The trust still awaits the outcome of the NIID decision."

A spokesman for the NIID said: "An updated letter was issued to residents and their families on June 9.

"In the meantime, senior management have been available to any resident or family member wishing to speak with them. Residents, their families and other relevant interested parties will be invited to participate in a formal consultation process.

"Details of this process will be made public once residents, their families and others directly involved in the process have been made aware."

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