Care resident’s niece: ‘Where is my aunt going to go?’

Resident 'Margaret Black with her niece Janice Warden. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Resident 'Margaret Black with her niece Janice Warden. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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UP to 70 more care home places are needed for the Capital’s elderly, a health chief has told Holyrood.

Michelle Miller, interim chief officer for Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, said those affected are mostly waiting in hospital.

Yesterday’s Health and Sport Committee also discussed the closure of 12 care homes run by charity Bield, with family of residents watching on.

“I’ve heard nothing from Bield and no one has been in touch,” said Janice Warden, whose 88-year-old aunt 
Margaret Black lives at Bield’s St Andrews care home in Uphall.

“Yet on March 31 they’ll turn off the lights and turn the gas off – where is she going to go?” she added after the hearing, calling for the government to intervene.

Families handed in a 9000 signature petition calling for the Bield homes, with 167 residents, to stay open.

The Bonington-based charity confirmed talks were ongoing for four, including the Haugh Street and Craighall Road homes in Edinburgh, to be run by other operators.

Bield’s Charlie Dickson said: “We recognise that there is still a level of uncertainty but we are progressing the conclusion of the transfers as quickly as possible.

Donald Macaskill, Scottish Care chief executive, told yesterday’s committee an extra £1 billion is needed nationally by the sector over the next three years.

Mr Macaskill said the Bield closures raise profound questions over the “sustainability” of the care home sector in Scotland and warned that significant players in the industry are concerned about their ability to continue.

He said: “Bield is a symptom of disease and that disease is the current underfunding of the social sector in Scotland.”

He said: “The bigger picture is how much are we prepared in Scotland to pay for the support and care of some of our most vulnerable citizens?”

Questioned on how much extra money is needed, Mr Macaskill said: “Within the Scottish context I would conservatively estimate in terms of the gaps of social care provision – the whole of social care from children to older people’s services – we need a further £1bn over the next three years.”

Bield Housing and Care chief executive Brian Logan said it had been a “tough” decision to close homes and acknowledged it would case anxiety and distress for residents and families.

He said staffing levels were sufficient to deliver services and care was “first class” but the charitable company, set up to help those most in need, did not want to be in a business where it faced moving to filling homes with more lucrative self-funding residents rather than those paid for by the local authority.

Mr Logan told the committee the care home side of the business had been losing money for five years and lost around £375,000 last year, while in total the company 
had an operating surplus of £1.7 million and £60m of reserves, £5m of which were free cash.