Woman (102) forced to find new place to live as Northern Ireland care home to close
A woman aged 102 will have to find new accommodation just before Christmas after a decision was taken to close a Co Londonderry care home.
The 11 residents of Edenmore care home in Coleraine were left in tears after finding out it will soon be closing its doors after 30 years.
Proprietor Ella O'Reilly told the residents and 16 members of staff that she had no choice but to close down. She said it was one of the hardest things she had ever had to do but now that the decision was made she was going to focus on helping the residents and their families search for new care homes.
"This was a horrendous decision to make, horrendous - but it had to be done," she said.
"We have had to make 16 staff redundant and the families of our 11 residents are having to find another care home all before Christmas.
"Our oldest resident is 102 so this is going to be a real blow to her - it was so difficult because they were in tears as you could imagine. The memories I have will be treasured. I have been so lucky to have a job like this and to work in this field.
"The people I have met over the years have been so interesting and it was a pleasure to hear all the stories they had to tell.
"The reality is there are empty beds and while it is breaking my heart we are just working though it and trying to be philosophical about it all," she commented.
One relative who did not want to be identified said the idea of moving her family member was traumatic.
"I think we are only getting over the shock but it really is dreadful that Edenmore is having to close.
"It was a really wonderful place and all of the residents seem to love it here so it will be very traumatic having to start looking now for somewhere else and trying to get people settled into a new environment in such a short space of time," she said.
Independent MLA Claire Sugden, who has been working with the owners of Edenmore, said the lack of a Health Minister in place hadn't helped the situation.
A policy shift away from residential care towards care at home or in supported living accommodation has seen a number of homes close as numbers of residents dwindle.
Ms Sugden explained: "There are 11 residents and 16 staff affected here and the reality is they could be moved some distance away which is unsettling at any time of the year, but it is particularly sad when it is so close to Christmas.
"I completely support Ella when she says she had no choice because if it wasn't now it was going to be sometime in the future.
"Generally, the support around residential homes is lessening because there is a move by the Health Department towards domiciliary care which is fine but it doesn't suit everyone.
"It is not always possible for people to live at home because they may need 24-hour care and they can't get that at home.
"So it's all very well the Department saying 'lets move care into the community' but they can only do that if the support is there and I don't believe it is.
"I think the Department needs to look at this in the round and realise some people need residential care but the money care homes get from the Trusts just isn't enough for the home to fill their beds which is why we are going to see more and more homes like Edenmore closing.
"Had we had a minister in place I would have hoped they would have looked into Edenmore to see if anything could have been done but that's not the case sadly."