Board members updated on Statutory Residential Care Home Consultation

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An update on the recent consultation on proposed criteria to assess Statutory Residential Care Homes in the future was provided today at a public meeting of the Health and Social Care Board.

This was the first of a two stage consultation process which was announced on 21 August 2013.

Speaking after the meeting Fionnuala McAndrew, Director of Social Care and Children with the Board said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone, especially the residents themselves, their families and staff who participated in the consultation process and who have taken part in any way or responded to this very important issue.

“I want to reassure everyone that we will carefully consider their views which will guide our approach and help us to make better decisions for the future,” she said.

The consultation document entitled, ‘Making Choices: Meeting the current and future accommodation needs of older people’ outlined four criteria to be used as the basis for assessing the future role and function of statutory residential care homes across Northern Ireland. The criteria are designed to be used by Health and Social Care Trusts to assist decision making about the role of statutory residential care homes in the context of planning suitable services for older people in the future.

The proposed criteria detailed in the consultation document were: Availability and accessibility of alternative services - this is about assessing the suitability of current and proposed service developments or redesign of services to meet individual needs including alternatives to residential care.

Quality of Care - assessing the quality of care in each residential care home against standards.

Care Trends – this relates to assessing the past and current need for residential care. This includes changing patterns of demand not just for residential care.

Best use of public money – assessing whether we are making the best use of funding to provide as much care as we need at a reasonable cost, and making sure that standards of care remain high.

Mrs McAndrew continued: “Over the 14 week consultation process, we undertook an extensive targeted engagement process with every effort being concentrated on meeting with residents and their families in 18 individual homes and listening first hand to their views and concerns. At these meetings Age NI provided support to residents who sought help with any questions or assistance in responding to the consultation.”

To raise awareness of the consultation process and encourage members of the public to get involved:

a series of press releases were issued to both regional and local media outlets;

public notices were placed in all weekly papers across the region;

a letter was issued via email to over 1100 interested individuals and organisations;

notices were contained in a number of public newsletters;

Progress Updates on the consultation process were issued to staff, union representatives and interested groups and were also placed on the Board’s website;

numerous social media posts were placed on Twitter and Facebook;

a wide range of engagement meetings were also undertaken with a range of individuals, union and political representatives, interested bodies and other key organisations and groups.

More than 1000 responses have been received to date (subject to change) in a variety of forms including; formal questionnaires; easy read questionnaires, petitions and general letters.

Mrs McAndrew added: “The Board is now currently collating all the consultations responses including notes taken from all engagement meetings and answers provided by residents to Age NI peer facilitators. All responses no matter what format they have been received will be incorporated and considered in drafting the final post consultation report.

“No final decisions will be made about any individual home until both stages of consultation have been completed. The second stage is expected to commence in autumn 2014.”

In referring to the non-admissions policy, in use by a number of Health and Social Care Trusts, Mrs McAndrew stated: “While all of the information received as part of the consultation process is important, the issue regarding the current policy of non-admissions in the Northern, Southern, South Eastern and Belfast Trusts kept coming through.

“As the consultation period closed on 7 March 2014, the written responses could not be analysed in time for this meeting. The Board had undertaken to keep the admissions policy under review. That review will be completed within the context of the full consultation responses. The review and the stage one post consultation report is expected to be ready in early summer 2014.”