A FAMILY has slammed the “unbelievable” treatment of a grandmother who was told to move to a new care home only weeks before her 104th birthday.
Barbara Smith, 103, was moved from council-owned Silverlea care home, Muirhouse, on Friday after spending 12 years there as a resident.
She has transferred to Marionville care home, close to Meadowbank Stadium, after family members launched a frantic search for alternative accommodation.
City leaders said the move was necessary ahead of Silverlea’s demolition and replacement.
But furious relatives today hit out at the decision and said they feared for Mrs Smith’s mental and emotional wellbeing as she adapts to new surroundings.
Grandson Leo Devlin, 49, a hotel supervisor from Leith, said: “I just cannot believe that Edinburgh City Council would even contemplate moving someone her age.
“Somebody that has worked all her life, paid taxes and lived in Edinburgh all her life deserves a bit of dignity in her last years instead of being moved about like some kind of commodity.
“I think she’ll be pretty scared as it will all be so new. She’s been at Silverlea for 12 or 13 years. It’s difficult to say how she will adapt. She’s been [at Silverlea] for so long.”
Mrs Smith was born in Falkirk, where she lived until moving to Edinburgh in her mid-thirties.
After marrying, she took a job at the whisky bond in Leith, then worked at Dobbies garden centre before taking a post in the former Daniel Stewart’s College.
She worked at the school for around 20 years until she retired, looking after the boys who boarded there.
Mr Devlin said his grandmother was made of “strong stuff” but admitted being deeply worried about how she would cope at Marionville.
And he said the search for new accommodation had taken a toll on the family.
“Just four weeks ago we got notice from the nursing home that it was being demolished,” he said. “Me and my sister had to run about looking for somewhere else for her to stay. The new place looks nice but it’s unbelievable that at her age she’s having to be moved and find somewhere else to live.
“We haven’t actually told her what’s happening. We’ve tried to cajole her into thinking that it’s her idea to move – I think it would be horrendous for her otherwise.”
He added: “She should be enjoying life in peace and safety, not moving to a completely new environment with people she does not know the week before her 104th birthday.”
City leaders said they were doing all they could to provide customised support to Mrs Smith.
A spokesman said: “We fully understand the difficulties facing older people when they move home. Silverlea is closing due to its age and the condition of the building, to be replaced by a new care home.
“Until the new home is ready, we are identifying alternative accommodation for the current residents. We have several vacancies in our other homes and we are doing everything we can to give individual support to Barbara in her move. We will continue to liaise with her family to ensure we meet both her needs and those of her family.”
Silverlea care home is being demolished as part of an Edinburgh-wide replacement programme, with work beginning on a new facility in Granton earlier this month.