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The proposal to close Clovenstone, Ferrylee, Ford's Road and Jewel House care homes came as a shock to staff, residents and their families when it was announced in June. But a final decision was put off until this month by the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (EIJB), which oversees health and social care in the Capital, to allow completion of an Integrated Impact Assessment, engagement with trade unions and consultation with key stakeholders.
Unions, staff reps and some EIJB members warned at the June 22 meeting that the work would not be completed in time for the next meeting on August 17 and it was agreed an extra meeting could be arranged for mid-September if necessary.
Now a report for next week’s meeting makes clear there is still work to be done and discussions to take place and the decision will not be made until next month.
The report said in addition to reports on the final impact assessment, engagement with the unions and consultations with stakeholders, a full report on projected numbers for future demand for care homes would be presented to the IJB in September, along with information on the investment required for more care at home and an update on workforce planning.
Unison branch secretary Tom Connolly it was always clear the impact assessment and consultations could not be carried out in time for next week’s meeting.
And he said the IJB had been slow off the mark to arrange talks after the last board meeting, but that had now been done.
But he said: “No concrete decisions will be made until September to allow this further consultation and this process, which should have happened in the first place.”
Unison launched a campaign to save the homes soon after the closure plans were revealed.
Mr Connolly said as well as ensuring the best outcome for staff the union was also keen to protect the public provision of care homes.
"The Care Inspectorate have not given any instruction those care homes need to close, they re just indicating that they’re not ideal. Of course we want people to be in decent care homes, so it’s not necessarily about keeping bad ones but reinvesting in new ones and keeping them in public ownership and run by councils.”
Depute council leader Cammy Day repeated his assurance that the council would not support the closures unless politicians were satisfied it was the right thing to do.
He said: "I'm of the opinion that if we don't get this right and we don't have the support, particularly of the residents and their families, this is not something we should proceed with.
"If the IJB decide to clsoe the care homes, any resident who is currently in a care home will be offered a council care home place. Nobody is going anywhere else unless they choose to."
He said there was enough capacity in the remaining care homes to accommodate all the residents affected, though he admitted to concerns about the capacity to meet the future needs of an ageing population.