Statement by the Diocese of Down and Connor and the Macklin Group on Our Lady’s Care Home, 68 Ardnava Road, Belfast

28 Jun 2017

In 1932 the Sisters of Mercy, against the backdrop of inadequate general hospital provision, discerned a need for nursing care and rehabilitation for aged and infirm persons within the community. They approached the Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr. Daniel Mageean, who agreed to purchase a property on the Falls Road, Belfast with a view to opening a new care home and hospice to provide accommodation for approximately 100 older residents.

In the 1990s it became clear that the Sisters of Mercy were no longer in a position to administer the Home and in October 1996, after more than 60 years of management by the Sisters of Mercy, the new Our Lady’s Care Home opened and came under direct management of the Diocese of Down and Connor.

This new purpose-built Diocesan Nursing Home offers 24 hour nursing care to the frail older people and older mentally infirm as well as day care facilities. A new extension was added in 2004 to increase its capacity, bringing the total number of beds to 86.

Our Lady’s Care Home has sought to provide the highest level of professional nursing care for all residents to ensure a secure caring environment in which all residents benefit from the highest levels of professional personal care, well-being and comfort.

Over the past few years, the Diocese of Down and Connor has engaged in an ongoing review of the provision of care within the Home to ensure it is meeting the highest levels of professional nursing care.

It has become increasingly clear that the necessary competencies to run a Care Home in the 21st century are best provided by specialists in that sector. For this reason and for the long term interests of residents, their families, carers and the staff of the Home it has been decided, after a lengthy period of deliberation, to transfer ownership of the Home to experienced operators.

The Diocese of Down and Connor in April 2017, with the consent of the appropriate Diocesan bodies, through the services of professional advisers sought tenders in respect of the sale of the Home. In June 2017 the Diocese entered into discussions with the Macklin Group in regard to the transfer of ownership of the home. The Macklin Group are an ‘Award Winning’ and long established family run business employing approximately 450 people in the Hospitality and Nursing Home sectors.

Engaging in the process of transfer, the Diocese was guided by a number of key principles:

  • The Diocese’s first priority was to ensure continuity of care and the well-being of the residents. A seamless continuity of the highest provision of care for residents was a paramount consideration.

The Macklin Group have a track record of excellence in the operation of care homes. In June at the Northern Ireland Family Business Awards the group was awarded Employer of the Year and was Highly Commended in the Lifetime Achievement Award. The family – run group have been twice winners of the Irish News Innovative Employers Award.  They won an array of clinical awards in the RCN Awards and Staff Nursing NI Awards 2017. They invest heavily in staff and were CIPD NI Award Winners for – Talent Management Programme of the Year for 2016. They are excited with the opportunity to confidently take Our Lady’s Care Home into the future, with its proud tradition, whilst retaining its founding ethos and the spiritual provisions that currently exist.

The Diocese is confident that the Macklin Group are fully committed to providing exceptional care and attention to every resident in a safe, homely and warm environment.  Their homes provide high standards of care in residential, nursing and dementia settings for both long term and short term residents.

  • A second guiding principle in the process was the smooth transfer for all employees with their existing terms and conditions of employment in place.

The Diocese has worked closely with the Macklin Group to ensure that all staff will be retained in their employment.

The Diocese takes this opportunity to pay tribute to all the staff for their years of loyal service to the home, particularly the management team and the management Committee of the Home, and wish them every blessing.

  • A third guiding principle in the transfer of ownership of the Home was the assurance that the Catholic ethos of care, which has been the hallmark of the Home and its staff since its opening by the Sisters of Mercy in 1930’s, would be retained.

The Diocese has sought assurances from the Macklin Group that the chaplaincy services and the spiritual and pastoral care services will be retained within the Home in the years ahead.

Under the new arrangements the Sisters of Mercy will continue to reside in the adjacent Convent.

It is anticipated that the transfer of ownership of Our Lady’s Care Home to the Macklin Group will be finalised towards the end of August 2017. During the transition period the Diocese and Macklin Group management will be engaging with the residents and staff.

Against the backdrop of recent closures of residential and nursing care facilities, the Diocese welcomes this development which ensures the long term stability of the care of the residents of Our Lady’s Care Home.

The Diocese takes this opportunity to ask God’s blessing upon all the staff, residents and management team as they facilitate these new arrangements in the months ahead.