Relatives complain to Care Inspectorate over closure of Edinburgh home for people with sight loss
Sight Scotland told families last month that Braeside House in Blackford was set to shut by April because of "unsustainable financial losses". The charity is also closing its other home in Paisley.
Now Bill Simon, whose 95-year-old mother is registered blind and has been in Braeside House for three years, has written to the Care Inspectorate raising concerns about Sight Scotland's handling of the situation.
He claimed the charity had decided in 2019 to admit only privately-funded residents. “Would it not have been more efficient to have the empty beds filled with local authority funded residents and at least receive some income rather than nothing? Also why did they close the care homes to any new residents in March 2020 when other care homes were still accepting new residents then?
"I and other relatives suspect that these actions were a deliberate intention to run down the occupancy of the care homes in preparation of their closure. These closures came as a tremendous shock to all the residents and relatives."
Mr Simon cites comments from Sight Scotland's annual report saying the charity does not expect the pandemic to have a long-term material effect on its finances and it has the resources to continue operating for at least a year. "These statements would appear to be contradictory to the letter issued on 14/01/21 advising of the closure of the care homes due to unsustainable losses and the pandemic."
And he says the charity gave its chief executive a 4.5 per cent pay increase. "This again would appear to be contradictory for an organisation claiming it is short of funds."
Sight Scotland said the closure decision had been taken with great sadness.
A spokesman said: “We have not been receiving new residents due to the pandemic and for the health and safety of residents. We did receive local authority residents to our homes in 2019. It is also the case that we did try to secure a more even balance between the number of local authority and privately funded residents, but this was in the hope that we could address the deficits in the homes and secure their long term future, given the higher subsidy the charity had to provide for local authority funded places.
"The pay policy for staff was applied evenly across the charity in 2020 with all staff receiving an increase in line with CPI, as is the policy of many organisations, and any increments to which they were entitled.”
He said the homes had a deficit of £1.5m in 2019, forecast to grow to £2m for this year, which was not sustainable.
"We have offered Mr Simon an individual meeting with our executive team and would welcome the chance to discuss with him why we have had to take this very difficult decision."
The Care Inspectorate said it was in close contact with the charity and the local health and social care partnership.
A spokeswoman said: “We understand this is a distressing time for people who experience care, and their loved ones. Our expectation is that any transition to new care arrangements must ensure that residents' needs are met and their rights respected."