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Those living in closure-threatened care homes are stranded in limbo, says resident's daughter

By Aine Fox

Published 28/11/2015

Oakridge care home
Oakridge care home

Elderly people living in seven private sector care homes earmarked for closure have been left in limbo, the daughter of an 87-year-old resident has said.

A total of 254 people and 393 staff face an uncertain future after Four Seasons said the homes were no longer viable.

The announcement by the UK's largest private care home company on Tuesday came "out of the blue", said Ruth Evans, who fears the impact the news will have on her mother.

Families of those affected were given little information or reassurance by senior management at a meeting earlier this week, Mrs Evans added.

She said: "The people who came to that meeting had no figures. They did nothing to give us an indication of what places were available in homes, what to do and who was going to do it. Nothing."

Ruth's mother, Edith Armstrong, was just beginning to get settled in Donaghcloney care home near Banbridge, having moved there from her home less than seven weeks ago. She became withdrawn when told about the closure and later said: "I've no home."

Mrs Evans added: "I fear dreadfully the impact on her health, long-term, and of the other residents as well."

The other homes closing are Victoria Park and Stormont care homes in Belfast, Antrim care home, Garvagh care home; Oakridge care home in Ballynahinch and Hamilton Court in Armagh. The Health Minister has, in light of the announcement, halted proposals to close state-run care homes.

Simon Hamilton said it was right to "pause and reflect" on the future of statutory facilities following the move.

Having moved their mother into the home so recently, and having had to give up the family home in the process, Mrs Evans said she and her siblings felt angry, and she questioned how no one in the firm knew of the problems ahead.

"At no point was there any indication whatsoever that there was a problem or that the home was under review or anything else," added the 59-year-old office manager.

"We had to break up our family home and divide all her possessions on the basis that she was to move into the care home permanently.

"We handed the key of her property in exactly one week before the announcement. We just can't believe that this has happened."

A spokesman for Four Seasons Health Care said the closure decisions were "difficult but unavoidable". He cited a number of factors, including a lack of permanent nursing staff.

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