Occupational Therapists play a vital role in transforming lives of elderly patients – O’Neill

Date published: 18 July 2016

That was the key message from Health Minister Michelle O’Neill as she officially opened the new Occupational Therapy department at Our Lady’s Care Home on the Falls Road in Belfast.

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill officially opens new OT Unit at Our Lady's Care Home

The Care Home has good links with the local community and is registered to deliver nursing care to elderly patients, patients with dementia and people with a physical disability.


Our Lady’s operates across all denominations and practices and encourages a recovery ethos for residents.


Speaking at the opening, the Minister said: “I welcome the opportunity to be here today opening this new facility which will undoubtedly help Occupational Therapists (OTs) enhance the lives of residents and the quality of their care through a person-centred approach to inter-professional care delivery.

“In the short time since taking up my new role as Minister of Health, I have become aware through the many policies and strategies being developed and the content of recent reports that our population is getting older.

“Statistics show that there are approximately 286,000 people aged over 65 living in the north of Ireland. This figure has increased over the last 20 years and is projected to increase by 74.4 per cent to 498,500 by mid-2039. As a result, our health and social care services need to respond accordingly to meet the increasing demand.”

The Minister continued: “It is society’s responsibility to ensure that the oldest and most vulnerable still have dignity, choice and independence in their latter years.

“This fuels a drive to find better ways of caring for people with more complex needs.

“The development of this Occupational Therapy department at Our Lady’s will ensure that these residents will be able to access evidence based programmes of assessment to maximise their independence and recovery.

“This is in line with the recommendations in my department’s nursing home standards which emphasise the importance of daily personalised routine.”

Commenting on the Minister’s visit, Our Lady’s CEO Gavin O’Hare-Connolly said: “I am most delighted to have had the Minister attend Our Lady’s Care Home for the official opening of our Occupational Therapy Department, a first of its kind in the north of Ireland.

“It is my personal vision that the independent care home sector take note of the importance of a recovery and enablement ethos in healthcare provision for our client group, and encourage our residents to foster a true sense of independence, choice and self worth in the care home, this requires dedicated input and investment from all professional disciplines and key stakeholders to enrich the lives of our most experienced citizens.

“I wish to formally thank Minister O’Neill for her most proactive approach to this new development and her focus on elderly healthcare provision.”

Notes to editors: 

1. The home, which has 86 single en-suite rooms, is owned by the Diocese of Down and Connor and falls under the auspices of Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.  The home employs some 157 people from across Belfast. 

2. Alongside nursing care, the home offers a range of social and recreational activities, which are based on involving residents in meaningful and engaging processes to support independence and recovery.

3. Our Lady’s Care Home has invested some £80K into the development of this new service, which has allowed the home to create an OT department to enhance the lives of residents.

4. The development of the OT department is cementing the vision of the CEO that those people receiving care should be able to access an evidence based programme of assessment and care to encourage maximum independence and recovery.  The OT department is a first of its kind in the north of Ireland.

5. Media enquiries about this press release to DOH Press Office on 9052 0505, or out of hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.  Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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