Edinburgh care home closures: son tells of his fears over what it will mean for his elderly father
The son of a resident in one of the Edinburgh council-run care homes proposed for closure has spoken of his fears about what it will mean for his elderly father.
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Gordon Milne said his dad James Milne, 87, who is in Drumbrae care home, was very frail and suffered from dementia.
"This has effectively been his home for the last six or seven years. He gets on well with the staff and, with his dementia, I wonder if he is effectively evicted from the care home what effect it will have on him.
"My mother is very concerned about it too. She's 86 and she goes to visit him most days. He has declined quite rapidly over the last year or so and I just worry what this change might do to him."
Drumbrae is one of five homes earmarked for closure in a major shake-up of the council's care provision. Under the plans it would be switched from a care home to a base for medically-led complex clinical care, replacing Liberton Hospital which is due to close.
The four other homes – Fords Road, Clovenstone, Jewel House and Ferrylee – have been judged no longer suitable.
Care union Unison has launched a campaign to save the homes and is urging people to sign an online petition ahead of a final decision on the closures scheduled for August 17.
Mr Milne said it appeared the number of residents at Drumbrae had been deliberately run down for the past few months and the place was now like "a ghost town".
He said: "I can't help thinking my father has been caught in some bizarre game – they have decided quite some time ago they were going to move the facilities from Liberton Hospital to Drumbrae care home and have been gradually running down the numbers as people die."
The council has said residents of the care homes will be offered accommodation elsewhere.
But Mr Milne said the letter telling relatives of the closure plans gave no firm information on what would happen to the residents.
“It’s difficult to describe the tone of the letter as anything other than patronising, trying to spin bad news as good news. And there was absolutely no detail – we still don't have any detail as to the future for my father.
“I know public officials have difficult decisions to make but I can’t help feeling this has been done in a rather unusually inept way, an uncaring and insensitive way.”
He said he was surprised to learn about the other four homes also closing because they were not fit for purpose. “It doesn’t seem likely that demand for care home places, with an ageing population, would diminish so greatly.”
Mr Milne said he had written to councillors, MPs and MSPs about the proposed closures. “Most of them responded and they were all fairly disturbed at the news.”
He said: “I'm worried about my father and disconcerted about the way they have gone about doing this. And I’m worried about the other residents as well – and the residents of the other four care homes. A lot of them are going to be fragile and confused. I hope there is something that can be done and they will take individual needs into account and treat them sensitively.”
A council spokeswoman said: "At a meeting on June 22 the Integration Joint Board agreed to progress plans to relocate intermediate and complex clinical care services to alternative accommodation within our existing estate by using the buildings we have in a different way. We’ll now start work on detailed transition plans for our staff and the people we support at all locations where services are affected, to support everyone through the transition process.
“Four older care homes were also identified as part of the review as having surpassed their design life expectancy and in which we cannot provide care for people with more complex care needs. Our colleagues continue to provide an excellent level of care within all our care homes but some of the buildings do not meet the Care Inspectorate design guidance for building better homes nor can they be updated to do so.”