A LOCAL care home pioneer who revolutionised her care services in Portstewart and across Northern Ireland has been honoured with a lifetime achievement gong in the prestigious NI Independent Care Awards 2012.
Rosemary Armstrong, who runs Armstrong Care Services, opened a newly built care home for older people in Portstewart in the late eighties, offering care services for residents rarely seen in Northern Ireland at the time – including regular physiotherapy to help service users maintain their mobility.
After selling the successful home on the north coast, instead of retiring and enjoying the fruits of her labour, she saw another part of the care sector she felt she could take forward.
After buying Blair Lodge in Bangor over a decade ago, she began providing care for people with learning disabilities, taking inspiration from England where non-institutional care was growing, following a decision to stop housing people with learning disabilities in special hospitals.
Rosemary actually began her care career in Southampton in the 1970s, developing a hugely successful care home in the town, but a downturn in her own mother’s health brought Rosemary home to Northern Ireland in 1988 where her work in care blossomed
The awards, compèred by local TV personality Julian Simmons, were presented at a Gala evening on Wednesday in the Ramada Hotel, Shaws Bridge, Belfast.
Julian said: “Rosemary’s dedication, care and devotion are overwhelming. The amount of energy she has is unbelievable. She is an example to us all, a wonderfully kind, generous and driven woman who this award only begins to fully honour. It was my pleasure to be involved.”
In a speech to announce the award, IHCP Chair Christine Thompson said: “Over the past 30 years, Rosemary Armstrong has built, run and invested around £6m in the private health care sector. Her passion for a project is never failing and she is always looking for the next opportunity!
“Rosemary is an inspiration to us all and having known and had the pleasure of working with Rosemary on the IHCP Management Board she never seems to run out of energy, she just keeps on giving therefore IHCP have deservedly chosen Rosemary for the Lifetime Excellence in Care Award.”
The Care Awards are an opportunity to recognise the quality and commitment of staff working in the Independent Health and Social Care sector in Northern Ireland. Outstanding staff will be acknowledged for the enormous contribution they make to society and the individuals they care for. The seven award categories attracted over 120 nominations for community care staff, including those working in nursing and residential homes and those providing care for people in their own homes.
This year’s awards were sponsored by Priory Group, who run seven homes in Counties Antrim and Down.
Nominations were assessed by an independent panel of judges before being shortlisted for a gong.