Closure of one of Edinburgh's largest care home sparks fears over provision of long-term care

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BUPA said it had “become increasingly challenging to operate in this region”

The closure of one of Edinburgh’s largest care homes has been announced – sparking fears it could create a “perfect storm” for the provision of long-term care in the capital. 

Braid Hills Nursing Centre will shut this summer, operator BUPA confirmed, as less than half of its 118 beds are currently being used.

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It comes just a month after it was agreed to close two of Edinburgh’s council-run care homes, with a combined 71 beds, to help plug a £60m black hole in the health and social care partnership’s finances.

Edinburgh care home, Braid Hills Nursing Centre, will shut this summerEdinburgh care home, Braid Hills Nursing Centre, will shut this summer
Edinburgh care home, Braid Hills Nursing Centre, will shut this summer | LDRS

Even before these were announced, a councillor said, the city had “significantly fewer care home beds per head than the Scottish average”. He called on the local authority to acquire Braid Hills to meet the care needs of an “ageing population”. 

The Liberton Drive facility has dedicated units for nursing care, dementia care and one for 18-65 year-olds with rehabilitation needs. However it is “under-occupied” and “overstaffed,” officials told councillors last week.

BUPA said it had “become increasingly challenging to operate in this region” and took the “very difficult decision” after exploring “all options”.

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Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership (EHSCP) said it had initiated its “well-established closure plan”. 

He said work was already underway to identify places in other care homes for Braid Hill’s 42 residents who are the responsibility of the council. “We will work with residents, their loved ones and staff to make sure that the transition to new arrangements is as smooth as possible and that we will meet the needs of those affected,” he said. 

Other local authorities responsible for a further 11 people living in the care home have been alerted to its closure.

Last week BUPA formally served notice to EHSCP of its intention to close Braid Hills, commencing a 13-week notice period. It means residents will have to vacate the building by July 22. However it is “entirely possible” the home will become “unsustainable” before this date as staff find alternative employment, a briefing note to councillors said.

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“BUPA has advised that the home is currently over staffed for the number of residents . . . the home has been under occupied for a long period,” it added. 

BUPA has offered 26 members of staff employed under visa schemes new jobs at one of it’s care homes in England, as Braid Hills is understood to be the company’s last remaining facility in Scotland. 

Independent councillor Ross McKenzie said: “This is starting to look like a perfect storm for the city’s provision of long term care. 

“Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (EIJB)  confirmed last month that it intends to close two council-owned care homes, with a total loss of 71 beds.

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“Meanwhile, the imminent closure of Liberton Hospital means that over 50 beds will be removed from ‘Hospital Based Complex Clinical Care’ and it’s widely understood that this move will increase demand for care home beds. 

“Even before these closures, we have a situation where Edinburgh already has significantly fewer care home beds per head than the Scottish average.

“The council supposedly has a policy of expanding public provision of care homes, including by acquiring them from the private sector. If we are serious about meeting the care needs of the city’s ageing population then we should be looking to acquire Braid Hills Care Home.”

EIJB member Cllr Vicky Nicolson called the news “extremely concerning”. 

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She said: “The closure of Braid Hills will put further pressure on our existing care home estate and, coupled with the scheduled closure of Liberton Hospital and the decision taken last month to close Clovenstone and Ford’s Road Care Homes, leaves the health and social care partnership with a challenging situation.”

Donald Day, Operations Director for Bupa Care Services, said: “In recent years it has become increasingly challenging to operate in this region. We have explored all options, though sadly we have had to make the very difficult decision to plan to close Braid Hills care home.

“We are working together with the City of Edinburgh Council to support residents and their families to make new arrangements in line with their personal needs and circumstances. We are committed to continuing our high-quality care until all our residents have found their new homes.”

Chief officer of EHSCP Pat Togher said: “The EHSCP has a well-established closure plan, based on COSLA policy and when notified by BUPA mobilised a team immediately to begin preparations.

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“We are working with BUPA to ensure we find places for the 42 current residents who are the responsibility of The City of Edinburgh Council.

“We will work with residents, their loved ones and staff to make sure that the transition to new arrangements is as smooth as possible and that we will meet the needs of those affected.”

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