Student flats a possibility after nuns sell-up

A CARE home run by nuns for 155 years could be transformed into student accommodation after the land was put up for sale.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 7th August 2018, 6:00 am
The sisters said their farewells yesterday.

 Credit: Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh
The sisters said their farewells yesterday. Credit: Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh

St Joseph’s House on Gilmore Place was run by the Little Sisters of the Poor before closing its doors earlier this year, with its 26 tenants now being relocated at either one of their other care homes in the UK or in local city homes.

The Evening News told last year how the Little Sisters of the Poor planned to withdraw from St Joseph’s House due to a shortage of nuns.

The religious order, which runs homes in Glasgow and Greenock, rejected two proposals from alternative care providers to take on the premises as a going concern.

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Having failed to reach an agreement, the 1.48 acre property has been put up for sale with the potential for it to be turned into homes, a hotel or student accommodation.

Claire Miller, Green city centre councillor, described the closure as a “real loss for the community”. She said: “In Edinburgh we already have a care shortage and this will only exacerbate the problem. Residents in the Gilmore Place area will be really disappointed that the care home can’t continue to operate. I don’t imagine there will be a lot of support locally for a hotel or student housing instead of a care home.”

The Little Sisters was founded in 1839 by Saint Jeanne Jugan, a Breton woman who established the order to care for the elderly.

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said the loss of St Joseph’s House was a blow for the city and increased the pressure on care facilities.

Mr Briggs said: “This is a massive issue where we are losing more and more care beds within Edinburgh, especially step down care.

“The situation is just getting worse and it’s a real shame to see something like this be turned possibly into more student accommodation.

“When we lose care beds such as this, it is very rare that they are replaced.

“As a city we need to look to the future and we need to find more people to work in care homes.

“People earn more money stacking shelves in Asda than being a carer.”

The proceeds from the sale of the building will be reinvested into the care of the elderly at the Little Sisters’ homes in Greenock and Glasgow and across the UK. It is understood the sisters will be relocated to where they are needed.

Judith Proctor, chief officer of the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “The partnership has worked with the Little Sisters of the Poor, former residents and their families to ensure that those affected were appropriately and sensitively accommodated elsewhere.”

The chapel of St Joseph’s Care Home was packed on Sunday as the Little Sisters of the Poor said farewell to the Capital.

Sister Kathleen Taylor, mother provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor, said: “It is very humbling to see so many people come together. It means a lot to us as we prepare to leave this beautiful city, which generations of Little Sisters have served for so long.”