Edinburgh care home closures won't go ahead until councillors convinced plans are right, says deputy leader
Plans to close Edinburgh care homes will not go ahead until politicians are certain the move is the right thing to do, the city's deputy council leader has said.
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Labour's Cammy Day insisted there needed to be full consultation with residents, families, trade unions and the council as well as close examination of projected trends before controversial proposals to shut five council-owed homes were approved.
And he said the Scottish Government should be asked to give funding for new state-of-the-art care homes in the future.
His comments came after Edinburgh's Integration Joint Board (EIJB), which oversees health and social care in the city, agreed on Tuesday that a final decision on the closures should be taken on August 17 or a fall-back date of mid-September.
But Cllr Day said: “If we can’t get it right in August then I'll be asking that we delay it for a much longer period to make sure we get it right."
Union representatives and board members have voiced concerns that the timetable is too tight and summer holidays are a bad time to hold consultations.
Cllr Day said: “I’m confident the councillor members of the IJB will not be happy to proceed wit this until they are reassured that all the various parts of the jigsaw have been completed, and families, the individuals involved, the trade unions and the council have been properly consulted.”
The homes affected are Ford Road, Clovenstone, Jewel House and Ferrylee, which are judged no longer suitable and would close completely, and Drumbrae, which would close as a care home and switch to hospital-based complex clinical care.
Altogether 211 care home beds would be lost. The EIJB, which bring together the council and NHS Lothian, says residents would be accommodated in other care homes, but in future it wants more people to be offered care at home.
Cllr Day said many care homes were currently only about half full, mainly because families did not want to put elderly relatives into homes during the Covid pandemic.
But he said he wanted to see figures for pre-Covid demand for care home places to assess what provision the city should be making.
He said he supported the "direction of travel" in the proposals. "Some of the homes don't meet the current care standards, for example not having en-suite facilities, and we want to give our older people the best we can.
"Of course we want people to stay at home for as long as they can, so long as it's properly resourced. The savings we might make from care home closures needs to be reinvested into community services – care homes, day services, care at home services.
"And there is a wider picture as well. If these care homes are coming to end of their natural use and we know older people are living longer with more complex conditions, what we should e doing now is saying to the Scottish Government: where is the capital investment for state-of-the-art care homes?”
He said Royston care home had been built in his Forth ward. “It’s brilliant, an abolutely amazing place and the people who live there have got a great experience,” he said. “I only wish the same could be given to everybody who is in the older care homes.
“We need the government to get their hands in heir pockets and start planning for the next generation of modern fit-for-purpose care homes in the capital city.”