Edinburgh Drumbrae care home: Private operator offers to take over empty care home if council doesn't want to
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A private-sector care home operator is offering to take over Edinburgh’s empty Drumbrae care home if the council does not want to reopen it itself.
Robert Kilgour, executive chairman of Renaissance Care, said it was “ludicrous” that a 60-bed home was not being used when there was a care crisis which saw people who were ready to be discharged stuck in hospital because there was nowhere for them to go. He said he was willing to have talks with the council and believed Drumbrae could be open and operating again in “a couple of months”.
The home, in Ardshiel Avenue, was only opened in 2013 but closed about a year ago so it could be converted for use by NHS Lothian as a complex care centre. Only then did the health board decide the cost of the necessary upgrade was too expensive and the project could no go ahead. It emerged just last week that NHS Lothian had never even signed the lease to take over responsibility for the property.
Mr Kilgour said he was “shocked” when he read the story in the Evening News. He said: “Renaissance Care would be happy to take on that home and provide the beds – we operate 16 homes across Scotland, with our head office in Musselburgh and we've got four homes in Edinburgh already. If NHS Lothian say it's too expensive to convert for their use and the council doesn't want to reopen it, we would buy or lease it from the council. The key thing is to get those much-needed beds back in circulation.
"There's no reason why with a bit of a refurb it should not be able to be registered with the Care Inspectorate and up and running fairly quickly. It doesn't need to be us – we'd be happy to do it – but at least someone should be doing it. It's absolutely ludicrous that such a recently-built home is lying empty. Staffing is a challenge these days, but I would be confident we could take on that home, staff it and have it providing much-needed beds to help with the bed blocking crisis we're currently in.”
He said getting planning permission and then building a new care home took between two and three years from start to finish. “But the fact is there's one sitting there which, with some refurbishment and re-registration, could be up and running within a couple of months.”
Councillors and union leaders have called on the council to reopen Drumbrae, saying it is a “scandal” for the home to be sitting empty. The Drumbrae closure plan was announced in June 2021 along with proposals to shut four other council-owned care homes and not replace them, but while the Drumbrae closure went ahead the future of the other homes remains uncertain pending a consultation. NHS Lothian and the council have both said discussions on what happens next with Drumbrae are “ongoing”.