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Sadness on the Falls at the loss of care home

Grovetree’s doors close for last time

By Francesca Ryan

A residential home in the lower Falls has closed its doors for good. Grovetree House on the Cullingtree Road closed this week after the last residents left on Thursday past.

The home opened in 1981 and was respected for its service and care, but in recent years it has been dogged by closure rumours.  In 2009, the home declared it was no longer taking new admissions but stressed that no resident would ever have to leave unwillingly.

Since then the numbers have dwindled as families moved their relatives to busier homes. Two weeks ago the Andersonstown News reported that just six residents were left at Grovetree, having fallen from 10 at Christmas time.  In the past fortnight, all residents have since moved on, the last two leaving on Thursday.

“Nobody was asked to leave,” said the daughter of one resident, “but you were basically left with no choice.  Why would you keep your mother or father there when there are next to no people?

“We saw it coming for a while,” she added.  “Nobody else was being admitted and they stopped doing respite care so this comes as no surprise to anyone, even if it is a shame.

“I would like to thank the staff who have been so consistent over the years, especially since the future was so uncertain.  They did a fabulous job and their work is greatly appreciated.”

A final Mass was held at Grovetree on Tuesday night, while a spokeswoman for the Belfast Trust confirmed yesterday (Wednesday) that Grovetree had closed.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News, Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann said the decision to close the facility is a source of great regret.

“I’m very sorry to hear this community has lost the services of Grovetree which provided an invaluable service for many years to those who crossed its doors,” he said.  “Not only did they care for residents, but they also helped families of residents.

“I think this decision is wrong and short-sighted. Other decisions should have been made to ensure the facility was maintained, not just for this community, but for everyone that used it.



“Again, decisions made by faceless people have seen a local facility closed in this way. I’m unhappy the Belfast Trust was not more forthright in explaining what their long term plans were. That has left me and others with a bad taste in my mouth.”

SDLP Councillor Colin Keenan said he was saddened by the closure of the home.

“Grovetree House has been providing elderly patients with critical and much-needed medical care for years and had the capacity to house 40-plus people,” he said.  “Whilst I support, in principle, the change that is needed in older people’s care to meet the needs of the future, I feel that the implementation process has left the Grovetree residents and their families in its wake.  I made several attempts to get this closure confirmation from the Trust but did not get a straight answer. It’s very sad to hear the facility has now closed and that people have had to move on.”e

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