Care village plan to house and treat elderly

The facilities proposed are to cope with the Lothians' ageing population. 'Picture: Donald MacLeod
The facilities proposed are to cope with the Lothians' ageing population. 'Picture: Donald MacLeod
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CARE villages for the elderly are at the vanguard of a radical ten-year plan set out by health bosses to cope with the region’s ageing population.

The developments – which would house a mixture of community hospital beds, care home facilities and sheltered housing – are being proposed by NHS Lothian so the elderly can live and be treated in the same place.

The care villages – to be sited at the Royal Victoria and Liberton Hospitals – would include residential and respite care along with services for those who require additional short-term care following an illness. It could also cater for some acute hospital admissions and even specialist support for patients with dementia and those who require palliative and end-of-life care.

Tim Davison, chief executive for NHS Lothian, said an evolution is needed to keep pace with a soaring population – all while budgets are being slashed. And with the Capital set to become the fastest growing city in Scotland – with a population of 600,000 by 2034 – he believes such care camps for OAPs could provide a workable and cost effective solution.

The plans include building a new community hospital in East Lothian and adapting Midlothian Community Hospital to provide “step up” and “step down” care to reduce unnecessary admissions to acute hospitals in the Capital.

By April next year, the trust aims to reduce delays in patients’ discharge to a maximum of two weeks – eventually stopping them altogether.

Professor Alex McMahon, director of strategic planning at NHS Lothian, said the care villages would pull together health and social care services to provide “a supported and caring environment for older people”.

He said: “Having access to the services they need in a homely environment can help people live longer, healthier lives and reduce hospital admissions. We are in the early stages of investigating how this concept would work in Lothian and which sites may be suitable for care villages.”

The ambitious plans are set to be revealed at a board meeting tomorrow before going out to consultation. They will be finalised by autumn following feedback from the public, staff, GPs and various partner organisations.

However Labour Lothians MSP Sarah Boyack last night warned she wanted “to see the price tag for this vision for the future”, while Jackson Carlaw, Scottish Conservative health spokesman, said it was vital to face up to the challenges an increasing and ageing population will bring.

KEY PARTS OF 10-YEAR VISION

• Construction of a new Sick Kids at the ERI campus, with completion expected by 2017.

• Acute care will be better shared over the three main sites of the Royal Infirmary, the Western General and St John’s.

• Day-case centres will be developed to increase day-surgery capacity at the Western and/or St John’s. Outpatient services are also being re-examined.

• Access to primary care and GP services will be improved through the development of additional capacity to meet population growth with new services providing more care closer to home.