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Domiciliary care in NI ‘broken’ and in need of ‘total overhaul’

Domiciliary care in Northern Ireland is “broken” according to a health chief who has warned of hundreds of new patients needing care packages every month with “no more money”.

South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, CEO Roisin Coulter told Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) a “total overhaul” was required for the care of the elderly and vulnerable.

In a special meeting with the local authority, the health boss also stated that the trust was unable to accept any new patients with learning disabilities due to the ongoing Muckamore inquiry.

Ms Coulter, stating she would be “open and honest” with the local authority, said: “I have worked in the health service all my life and I have never been as concerned as I am now with the inability to be able to provide adequate services.

“The domiciliary care model in Northern Ireland is broken, it needs a total overhaul.

“The lack of a new health budget is having a serious impact on services.

“I have been told that there is no more money coming into Northern Ireland for health care, this is a major concern.

“We have 5,317 care packages in the SE Trust alone and that number has 500 new patients every month, well beyond what we can provide in the health service, there needs to be a huge change in my view.

“What do people want? They want stay in their homes for as long as possible and it is important to remember that, we need to invest in our community services.

“We have staff working under relentless pressure during the pandemic, but that has not alleviated on the front line.

“How do we attract people into the health services? That is a priority for us.

“With any new government coming is that is going to be right up there.”

The health chief alluded to domiciliary social care services being under the management of local authorities in other parts of the UK with home care packages being means tested for patients.

NMDDC deputy chairperson Aoife Finnegan (SF) responded: “The Executive needs to be in place and needs to invest and recruit more doctors, nurses and other health staff.

“We need to future proof our health care system.”

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