Fix nursing shortage or risk availability of care homes for older people, warns commissioner

-
-

It is “vital” that steps to increase the nursing workforce are successful to keep “a range of care home settings available” to older people, the NI Commisioner for Older people has said following news that a care home is to close due to a nursing shortage.

Drumclay Care Home in Enniskillen is to close because it is unable to recruit “skilled and experienced nursing staff”, the owners of the home told the News Letter on Thursday.

The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Older People, Eddie Lynch, said that maintaining a “stable nursing workforce” has been a challenge for care homes for years.

“I am saddened to hear of the closure of Drumclay Care Home and my primary concern is for the 34 older people living within the home,” Mr Lynch said.

“It can be very distressing for residents to be moved from the place which they call their home. Continued regular and open communication between the Western Health and Social Care Trust and families will be key to minimising the negative impact on the 34 older people affected. My office has spoken to the authorities and will be seeking assurances that suitable alternative accommodation is found for all of the residents that meets their individual needs.”

He continued: “I am concerned to hear that the closure of the home was due to an ongoing inability to recruit the quality and quantity of skilled nurses.

“Recruiting and maintaining a stable nursing workforce has been a major challenge for care homes over the past number of years and the problem is not unique to Northern Ireland.”

Mr Lynch added: “If we are to provide safe care for our growing ageing population there must be evidence of proper workforce planning. I am aware that there are a number of initiatives attempting to increase the nursing workforce and it’s essential that this work not only succeeds in addressing current concerns but also in developing a sustainable workforce in the longer term. This is vital if older people are to be assured that there will be a range of care home settings available to them if they need or want them.”