Income rise at Edinburgh care home closure charity

Margaret Black, pictured with her niece Janice Warden, is a resident at St Andrew's Care Home for dementia patients in Uphall. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Margaret Black, pictured with her niece Janice Warden, is a resident at St Andrew's Care Home for dementia patients in Uphall. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A CHARITY which blamed “financial constraints” for closing care homes has seen its annual income grow 12.5 per cent in five years to nearly £50 million.

Bonnington-based Bield announced last week its withdrawal from 12 homes – including two in Edinburgh and two more in West Lothian.

Accounts lodged by Bield at the Scottish Charity Regulator also reveal a £2m surplus this year between income and expenditure.

Bosses at the charity have defended the decision, stressing that the combined deficit across the 12 care homes was £375,000 last year, with the figure in 2017-18 expected to exceed £350,000. Continuing to function with such losses would affect other areas of the charity’s operation, they added.

They also said it was “not unusual” for a housing association to have a surplus and that the money generated would be needed for re-investment in property and maintenance.

But Janice Warden, whose 88-year-old aunt Margaret Black lives at Bield’s St Andrews care home in Uphall, said: “I really think it’s shocking – it’s people’s lives.”

Bield’s decision caused uproar among families amid calls for the First Minister to intervene and the 167 residents to be looked after. Relatives seeking reassurances now plan showdown talks with the charity – with a meeting scheduled at St Andrews tomorrow.

Ms Black, a former personal assistant at Queensferry’s King George IV whisky distillery, moved into St Andrews after being diagnosed with dementia two-and-a-half years ago.

“As there’s no care home in South Queensferry my brother and I looked long and hard for a care home where we thought she would be happy,” said Janice, 64. “My brother lives in Broxburn and it is close enough for me to travel three or four times a week to see her from South Queensferry.”

Ms Black pays £3,297-a-month from her pension with her personal care costs topped up with £170-a-week from the city council. Janice praised the staff at St Andrews. “The home is good,” she said. “These ladies have key workers in the home and become attached to them and also the familiarity of the building. Why can’t these homes be looked at individually and see how they could be run more efficiently?”

Bield’s chief executive, Brian Logan, said: “The cost to operate our care homes exceeds the income generated. Last year our combined deficit across all of the 12 care homes was £375,000. The figure for 2017-18 is expected to exceed £350,000. Looking forward, the costs to run the care homes will increase but income will not keep pace, so deficits will only increase. That is a situation which is unsustainable for any business or organisation. We have been exploring alternative options for more than six years and the unfortunate conclusion is that we have not been able to find alternative models that can work or find sufficient efficiencies to make the care homes financially viable.

“To continue to operate with these losses would compromise the vital work and services we provide which supports and cares for thousands of older people across Scotland. It is also not unusual for a housing association to have a surplus – these monies are almost always needed to fund re-investment in property and maintenance. Bield owns and successfully manages more than 5400 properties in Scotland and we have a responsibility to continue to ensure a high quality of housing and care services.

“It would be inappropriate to suggest that funds should in some way be diverted elsewhere in the business – in particular to support a service that suffered from an inadequate level of government funding and where deficits will only continue to grow in future years.”

andy.shipley@edinburghnews.com