TERESA Lynch’s plea on behalf of her disabled brother Tony certainly tugs at the heart strings.
For almost 20 years the Murraypark Nursing Home in the grounds of the old Corstorphine Hospital has been home to the 58-year-old and 14 other residents with complex learning disabilities. They all now face an uncertain future as NHS Lothian carries out a review of the care they all receive.
The fear of Teresa and other relatives is that the home which they value hugely will be closed down – and that as a result their loved ones will suffer.
Behind the move are national guidelines which recommend that all people with learning disabilities receive the support they need in the community rather than in a long-term care facility. That is certainly a laudable principle but there are real concerns about putting it into practice.
Firstly, not everyone is able to thrive outside an institutional setting. There are undoubtedly many individuals who have been held back by not being offered the specialist care they need to live in the wider world.
The shift in NHS policy aimed at ensuring they get the support they need has to be welcomed. Although it must be recognised that this is not a cheap option, and that high-standard care in the community comes at a significant cost.
Pursuing guidelines too slavishly only creates a “one size fits all” approach that ignores the needs of those who would be better served in a professional care setting.
The other big concern for people who have grown so used to living in one environment is that taking them out of it will cause great trauma. The impact on vulnerable individuals should not be underestimated.
The hopes of those living in Murraypark rest on the outcome of an NHS Lothian review which is still at an early stage. We must hope for an outcome that addresses their concerns.