Edinburgh care homes must be saved from closure says union as it launches campaign and appeals for public backing

Care union Unison has launched a campaign to save five council-run care homes from closure and appealed for public backing.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 4:55 am

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Clovenstone, Ferrylee, Ford's Road and Jewel House care homes have been earmarked to shut completely while Drumbrae would close as a care home and switch to hospital-based complex clinical care.

Unison said the proposals would involve large-scale disruption for care residents and mean 270 care home posts were deleted and a further 160 care home jobs put at risk.

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Tom Connolly of Unison said the closures were 'devastating' for care home residents

It would also remove a total of 211 residential care places from the council’s current network of homes, raising fears about an over-reliance on private care provision in the future.Last week the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board, which brings together the council and NHS in overseeing health and social care, agreed a decision on the closures should be taken on August 17 if consultations and an impact study can be completed in time or mid-September if they cannot.

Care staff are writing to city council leader Adam McVey urging him to step in and save the homes.

And Unison is running an online petition to show the depth of feelings of residents, staff and those in the wider community. Over 100 people signed the petition in one day.

Further campaign action and demonstrations are also planned.

Fords Road care home Picture: Ian Georgeson

Unions and employees had no warning of the proposed closures. The shock news was broken to staff at simultaneous meetings in the affected homes on June 9 while families of residents received letters the following day.

Unison branch secretary Tom Connolly said: “Closing four care homes, and changing the role of another, without proper and meaningful consultation is wrong.

"It is devastating for the residents. It’s also insensitive to staff who have put the health and wellbeing of care residents before themselves and their families, throughout this pandemic.

"Caring for our vulnerable elderly is a vital job, care homes are essential and care staff deserve support from all of us.”

Unison's Greig Kelbie called said home should be 'providing quality care not making money.

The council has said the four homes due to close completely are no longer suitable to serve as care homes and residents will be offered alternative accommodation in other homes, though no details have been given. Drumbrae is needed to house complex care because of the imminent closure of Liberton Hospital.

The proposals are part of what the EIJB has called "an ambitious change programme that will revolutionise health and social care services".

A report to last week’s meeting said the city's bed-based care provision needed to be reconfigured to ensure the right mix of beds and talked about shifting more care into the community and collaborating with the voluntary and independent sector.

But concerns have been voiced about whether the city will be left with the capacity to care for an ageing population.

Drumbrae care home Picture: Ian Georgeson

Charity Age Scotland said even if residents could be accommodated in other care homes at the moment, the proposed closures could mean too few places to cope with demand in a few years.

Unison regional organiser Greig Kelbie said: “We need the support of the Scottish government to start planning and financing the next generation of modern fit-for-purpose care homes.

"Edinburgh councillors should stand up for council-run care homes. Making these decisions without a fully-costed plan on how community care and care at home would be an adequate replacement is a dangerous precedent to set.

“Scotland’s care system already relies too heavily on for-profit care homes. Edinburgh can buck that trend by supporting council-run care homes that focus on providing quality care not making money.

"I urge everyone to back Unison’s campaign to Save Our Care Homes, and sign and leave a message on our online petition.”

Depute council leader Cammy Day told the Evening News earlier this week he wanted full consultation with residents, families, trade unions and the council as well as close examination of projected trends before the proposals were approved.

Jewel House care home Picture: Greg Macvean

He said he was confident councillors on the EIJB would not proceed until they were satisfied the various parts of the jigsaw had been completed and there had been proper consultation. "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," he added.

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