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Slievemore residents to be safely resettled in alternative care facility

Law Centre (NI) has helped to achieve a successful resolution in the resettlement of long term residents of Derry’s Slievemore Nursing Unit, which closed on Monday 5 January.

Following independent mediation organised by the Law Centre and the Office of the Commissioner for Older People (COPNI), the Trust has offered to place the five remaining residents in an alternative care facility located in Derry city, with the agreement of their families.

Ursula O’Hare, Acting Director at Law Centre (NI) said: “It is important that measures are put in place to listen to people’s wishes when changes to their care are being considered, including where budgetary constraints or capacity issues present challenges. We commend the families and the Trust on reaching an agreement which will safeguard the rights of Slievemore’s long term residents.”

The residents of Slievemore were elderly people with dementia. Slievemore had originally been created to provide short-term specialist nursing care and treatment but many of the residents were living there on a long term basis.

The Law Centre was contacted in 2012 by the families of a number of residents. The families were concerned about the lawfulness of the lack of consultation prior to closure and the potential impact which a move to a nursing/residential home would have on their vulnerable relatives. There were questions over whether the human rights of the residents had been fully respected.

In conjunction with COPNI, the Law Centre negotiated with the Trust and their lawyers on behalf of a group of residents, and the Trust agreed to participate in a formal mediation process with the families.

The Law Centre liaised with COPNI and the families in selecting a mediator and continued to provide ongoing assistance and advice to the families throughout the process.

The independent mediation has been successful and the five remaining residents are in the process of being resettled in an alternative facility.

Caroline Cooley, Community Care Legal Adviser at the Law Centre’s western area office, said: “We are pleased to have been able to help the residents, their families and the Trust to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement. The Law Centre will provide legal assistance through the courts where necessary but we seek negotiated resolutions wherever possible to achieve happy outcomes for all parties involved.”                                                        

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