Union fears Londonderry dementia unit could close

Western Health and Social Care Trust

The chair of the trade union Unison's Foyle branch has said he fears Slievemore nursing unit could close in two weeks.

Ten patients are currently being cared for at Slievemore, which is specifically for people with dementia.

A recent inspection by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) raised concerns about how long patients were being kept in the unit.

No new patients are being admitted to Slievemore.

Staff who work there will be redeployed.

Liam Boyle, chair of Unison's Foyle branch who also works at the unit, said he is fearful for the future of residents and staff.

"We are told there will not be any compulsory redundancies but there are 28 people that need redeployed.

Start Quote

Families are concerned about what is going to happen to their loved ones”

End Quote Liam Boyle Chair of Unison's Foyle branch

"I am fearful of what is going to happen and where these people are going to go.

"Families are concerned about what is going to happen to their loved ones, where they are going to go and how they will be cared for in the future," he said.

The Western Health and Social Care Trust's director of primary care and older people, Alan Corry Finn, said the unit was established as a hospital ward, but the needs of its patients mean it has effectively become a nursing home.

He said 28 members of staff would be redeployed, and alternative accommodation would be found for residents.

"We can't make the bedrooms bigger and we cannot have bigger bathrooms. The building is very dated and dates back to the 1970s.

"To meet the proper standards we would need to knock it down and rebuild. There are facilities in the community that can provide this type of care already," Mr Corry Finn said.

The RQIA's Chief Executive, Glenn Houston, said it is now up to the Western Trust to address the issues highlighted by the inspection and to decide where that respite care will be provided in future.

"We have identified a number of areas which we have asked the trust to consider.

"We are currently in discussions with them.

"We need to know what the reasonable alternatives are," he said.

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