Labour says no to Edinburgh care homes closure plan
Edinburgh’s Labour councillors today came out against plans to close five care homes in the city, saying it would spell the end of council provision of residential care.
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And Labour group leader Cammy Day said if homes were judged no longer up to standard the council should seek funding support from the Scottish Government to refurbish the properties or build new ones.
Four council-run homes – Clovenstone, Ford's Road, Jewel House and Ferrylee – have been earmarked by health bosses for permanent closure because their buildings are no longer deemed suitable for long-term care and Drumbrae is proposed to close as a care home and become a base for medical complex care. The remaining three council-owned care homes in the city would be changed into nursing homes by adding nurses to the staff.
Although the homes are council-owned, care provision is in the remit of the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (EIJB) which is made up of council and NHS Lothian representatives.
Health officials who drew up the plans originally wanted the scheme approved in June but the EIJB delayed a decision for more information.
And the last meeting of the EIJB agreed in principle to a full public consultation, with the details and timing due to be decided at a special meeting on September 14.
Labour’s move will increase pressure on the SNP – their senior coalition partners at the City Chambers – to oppose the proposals too.
Councillor Day said: "My group believes if we remove these care homes and put the residents in the remaining council care home places they will be full, which means anyone else who wants to access a council residential care home won’t have that option because they’re full.
"We believe there should be care homes run for the public by the public sector and these proposals would reduce that quite substantially at a time when people are living longer with more complex illnesses.
"The types of care might change, but I think there will always be that need – and an increasing need – for council residential care, albeit with a commitment to keep people at home as long as possible.
"Labour is against closing public sector-run care homes and handing it over to the private sector, which is what would effectively happen here. For people who can afford to go to the private sector they can have that choice, but the majority of people in council-run care homes cannot afford to go elsewhere and we want to continue to offer that option.”
He said if homes could not remain open because they failed to meet the required standard, the council had to look at refurbishment or new homes.
“What are the plans to build or refurbish next generation of care homes? That’s something we will have to seriously consider for our budgets, for next year even.
“If we’re required to invest in the future of the older generation of the city by creating more efficient, modern care homes that’s what we need to be doing.”
He said there would have to be talks with the Scottish Government on funding to make sure standards could be met because the council did not have the necessary resources.
Councillor Day said fellow Labour councillor Ricky Henderson, Labour's representative on the EIJB, had managed to get unanimous support from the board to delay the proposals and hold a consultation.
“I’m hopeful that we can achieve the same by working pro-actively with other board members and senior officials to show there is an alternative, and that will be about refurbish or rebuild and lobbying the Scottish Government for more funding for older people’s care and modern, fit-for-purpose care facilities.
"I’m confident given the work we’ve done before with the IJB we will be able to persuade the majority of them to support our rejection of the current proposals.”