NORTH Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has met with the Multiple Sclerosis Society to discuss the provision of MS respite in Ballycastle.
He criticised the Northern Trust for running down the service in North Antrim which has led, in his view, to reduced demand. He added that there is widespread concern that the Department of Health does not have a clear plan for a future provision of MS services that meets patients’ needs.
“There is widespread concern at the running down of the MS respite service at Dalriada Hospital, not only because of the range of services that were available to patients but because it seems there is nothing substantial being offered by the Trust to replace this except for nursing homes,” he said.
“MS sufferers have different needs of course and the reduction in services offered quite clearly undermines the overall sustainability of the provision at Dalriada.
“This is the only centre of its type in the north and is a necessity in my view given the fact that we have higher rates of MS here than anywhere else in the world.
“We need to think of not only MS patients but carers as well. The MS Society want to see adequate provision of respite and care in the north to meet the needs of all those who have MS. That is something that we share and the Health Minister needs to spell out clearly how the needs of those people will be met in the longer term.”
A spokesperson for the Northern Trust said,
“The Trust has not changed the process for accessing respite care or reduced access to MS beds in the MS Centre in Dalriada.
“The direction of travel within the Northern Trust is to provide respite care as close as possible to a client’s home. This is what people have asked the Trust for and this is reflected in ‘Transforming Your Care’ - the review of health and social care in Northern Ireland.
“We have worked in partnership with the MS Society to capture the views of all service users through an engagement process. The outcome was: - Clarification of the current use of this respite service within the Northern Trust area and the commissioned bed days for each of the other trusts;
- MS clients’ views around future preferred models; and,
- An examination of options regarding the future of the service model.
“Feedback from our service users highlighted that respite services need to be stimulating and flexible. This feedback was particularly important in light of the recent publication of Transforming Your Care which urges that respite service be provided as far as possible in people’s own homes.
“Placement for respite care into the MS Centre is based on the assessed need of the client. The Trust has not changed the process or reduced access to MS beds.
“Respite for people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the Trust is available through the following:
• All nursing and residential homes with appropriate RQIA registration.
• MS unit in Dalriada
• Thompson House in Lisburn
• Foster Green Brain Injury Unit
• Share Centre in Lisnaskea
• MS Centre in Cumbria
• Respite grants from the voluntary sector used to go away for respite break
• Direct Payments”