Plans for the Southern Health Trust to review admission policies for an under-threat residential care home have been met with fierce criticism.
Residents at Roxborough House, Moy, have been left in limbo after it was first announced last year that the home was to close.
In April, 2013, the trust confirmed it would cease permanent admissions to Roxborough House, as well as the four other statutory residential homes within the southern area.
However, the decision appeared to have been reversed in April this year, when the care homes were told they would not face closure while residents wanted to stay there.
The latest decision, which followed a consultation into the future of residential care by the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), has led to an angry response from unions and some families who fear the homes could still close.
Unison has accused the HSCB of “failing” in its duty of care towards the public.
However, the HSCB has reiterated the pledge by Health Minister Edwin Poots that all current homes would remain open as long as residents want to stay in them.
The recommendation to review the admission policy was part of the board’s latest consultation process.
It focused on producing the criteria that should be used to assess a home’s future. It will be used by all five trusts.
They will then inform the board of their future intentions which will examine proposals and consider any closures. Currently only the Western Trust has a policy to accept permanent residents.
Joe McCusker, Regional Organiser of Unison, said: “They failed in their duty of care for the health and well-being of all.
“Unison will continue to challenge this process at every level, and support all Residential Homes in building and demonstrating their own vision for their future.
“It is now clear that there are now and never have been good intentions by those with responsibility and funding for care.”
Mr Poots said residents would remain in their homes for as long as “they wished and so long as their needs can continue to be met there”.
“I stand by that reassurance because I appreciate the value of the friendships they have forged, the close connections to family and the community, and the quality of care and an attachment to the staff,” he said.
“However, because there is currently significant spare capacity in homes, I am keen to see an expanded role for them – providing respite care and given the current pressures in our hospital system, potential step-down provision following discharge from hospital.
“I have tasked my officials to explore the potential for residential facilities to serve as broader hubs for older people’s services.”