Edinburgh's plan to close care home could lead to shortage of places in future, warns charity

Plans to close five Edinburgh council-run care homes could leave the Capital struggling to meet the demands of an ageing population in the future, a leading charity has warned.

Saturday, 12th June 2021, 4:55 am

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

The shock plans – to shut the Fords Road, Colvenstone, Jewel House and Ferrylee homes completely, on the grounds the buildings are no longer suitable, and change the use of Drumbrae care home to medically-led care of the elderly – were revealed to staff at simultaneous meetings in the affected homes on Wednesday while families of residents received letters on Thursday.

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Fords Road Care home   Picture: Ian Georgeson
Fords Road Care home Picture: Ian Georgeson

Edinburgh’s Integration Joint Board, which oversees health and social care in the city, is due to discuss the proposals on June 22.

Adam Stachura, head of policy at Age Scotland, said a reduction in the number of publicly-owned care homes would be disappointing and could lead to a lack of choice for people and a reduced range of services and support available.

He said: “If these homes are going to close the first priority must be to ensure that all residents are able to find good and appropriate alternative accommodation. Fundamentally these are people’s homes.”

Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, which involves both the council and NHS, indicated it expected many of the displaced residents to be able to move to other council-run homes.

Jewel House care home Picture: Greg Macvean

But Mr Stachura said the population was ageing. “In the medium to longer term the challenge in Edinburgh is that with fewer homes and potentially more demand for rooms there could be a problem down the line.”

He said it was good if people could be helped to stay in their own home with appropriate support for longer – “but that doesn’t work for everyone”.

His concern was echoed by Tory councillor Phil Doggart, a member of the EIJB, who said he had asked for more information on what modelling had been done on future population and the expected demand for care.

He said: "My concern is we’re putting a solution in place that is fine for 2021 but is it going to be right for 2031? Are we putting in place the right long-term solution for the population as a whole?”

He said there was also a question about how the position was reached where the homes were not appropriate for the provision of care. “That’s a long-term issue around the council’s willingness to update its estate at the right time and we end up in these cliff-edge situations where a drastic decision has to be taken.”

Green councillor Gavin Corbett said the closure proposals had come out of the blue and raised a lot of questions.

"There are no timescales outlined and that is bound to create uncertainty at a time which is already very difficult. And, while I recognise that most older people want to be cared for at home for as long as possible, there comes a time, for some, that moving into a care home is the right choice. So we need to be absolutely certain that the capacity is at the right level, of the right type and in the right places to meet that need.

“In a very different context, Edinburgh has been down this path before, closing four primary schools over a decade ago and then having to build new classroom space to cope with a surge in numbers. So the city needs to get this right and take staff, residents and families with it.”

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