Son speaks of upheaval as mother’s rural home to shut

Margaret McCormick, resident of the soon to close Garvagh care home, seen three years ago
Margaret McCormick, resident of the soon to close Garvagh care home, seen three years ago

The son of a disabled care home resident who will soon be forced out of her current facility has spoken of the upheaval it will mean for his family.

Robert McCormick said moving his mother Margaret from her soon-to-be-axed care home in a highly-rural part of the Province to another facility in the area looks extremely difficult.

He was speaking after Four Seasons Health Care announced it is to shut seven of its care homes, including hers in Garvagh. The seven employ almost 400 staff and cater for over 250 residents.

Robert’s mother Margaret, aged 72, has dementia, is unable to walk, and has “100 per cent nursing needs” according to her son, has been in roughly 50-resident Garvagh home for over three-and-a-half years.

Robert, who lives about three miles from the home in north-east Co Londonderry, was told of the news at 12.45pm on Tuesday.

“That was the first inkling there was that there were any problems,” he said.

He added: “At the moment, in this locality, there’s nothing. We have to put our mother’s name on waiting lists.

“We’ve been out as soon as we heard this, putting my mother’s name down for some of the local ones. There’s a waiting list for them all.”

He said they are all private homes, and, as far as he is aware, there are no state ones nearby.

The health minister had announced plans to suspend the closure of 10 state-run homes to deal with the ramifications of the Four Seasons closures, which will take effect from February.

“We can’t speak highly enough of the care the girls in that care home give her,” said Robert of the Garvagh home.

“They know her ways, because she’s been there for so long... These have become these people’s homes. They are taking these elderly, vulnerable people out of their own homes. It’s a big ask.”

Any move is going to be “very stressful,” both for her and his father too (who is also in his 70s, and goes to visit her).

Robert said his mother knows nothing about what is soon to happen to her.

The other homes are in Antrim, Armagh, Donaghcloney, Ballynahinch, and the Victoria Park and Stormont homes in Belfast.

The Patient and Client Council – a government-run body – issued a statement on Thursday morning which said it is “working to ensure that residents and their families have the information they need”.

It said those with concerns should contact their local health trust, or call the Patient and Client Council helpline on 0800 917 0222.