SNP and Tories join forces to close South Lanarkshire care homes

SNP and Tory councillors in South Lanarkshire have voted to close two council run care homes with proposals to close another two.

At the Social Work Committee on the 20th June a proposal to close Kirkton House in Blantyre and McWhirter House in Larkhall, to fund a new multi-disciplinary Hub in Blantyre, was passed when SNP and Tory councillors voted together.

Kirkton House (above) and McWhirter House (below) are being closed

Kirkton House (above) and McWhirter House (below) are being closed

the plans voted through by the SNP and Tories will mean care home closures and cuts to bed numbers

Councillor Joe Fagan, Leader of South Lanarkshire Labour Group

The closures are part of a council plan to allow more people to live at home, facilitated through new multi-disciplinary Hubs, but a lack of consultation and concern that the new facilities will not meet the demand for residential care have raised concerns.

 

Councillor Bert Thomson

Councillor Bert Thomson, Blantyre Ward

The first of the new care hubs will be built at the St Joseph’s site in Blantyre and although that investment has been welcomed by Labour councillors the closure of McWhirter House and Kirkton House have not.

Blantyre Labour councillor Bert Thomson pointed out that the previous Labour administration had set money aside to improve care provision saying:

The only reason that the Council can today consider investment in a new care facility at the St Joseph’s site is that Labour set aside the capital spending to make it happen when we were in power. Make no mistake about it, we support new care facilities and we want to see investment on the St Joseph’s site but we also want the Council to take the time to get these proposals right.

Councillor Thomson went on to call into question the way in which the closures have been handled adding:

Blantyre will benefit from a new care hub at St Joseph’s but we are also losing Kirkton House and no de-commissioning plan for Kirkton House was ever put to the Social Work Committee. Councillor Mo Razzaq and I will press the Council to address the uncertainty around the next steps for Kirkton House as a priority.

Councillor Andy Carmichael, Larkhall Ward

Councillor Andy Carmichael, Larkhall Ward

In Larkhall, the loss of McWhirter house is potentially more damaging to the local community as it will leave the town without any council run care homes, nor will it see any investment in a new Hub as the Blantyre Hub is intended to serve the whole Hamilton area including Larkhall. Praising McWhirter House as “absolutely first-class”, Labour councillor Andy Carmichael said there was no mandate to close the home, pointing out that no candidate at last year’s local elections had raised the possibility of closure and that there had been no meaningful consultation with the local community.

All four of the care homes to be closed where rated very good or good in all categories by the Care Commission at their most recent assessments

In the report to the committee it was claimed that the plans were intended to facilitate “a reduction on the reliance of nursing and residential care”.  However, the two care homes slated for closure each have 30 residential places whereas the new Hubs will have 20 transitional rooms and “20 technology enabled homes which support adults with complex needs and older people to live independently”.  “Technology enabled” often means alarms replacing human carers.

it is assumed that any additional demand, arising from those who cannot live independently, will have to be met by the private sector.

The proposal relies on the assumption that many people can be “transitioned” back to living at home and a pilot scheme in 2016 found that 56% of those supported were returned home.  However, no figures on the longer-term success rate of the scheme, and whether people were able to remain in their homes and for how long, were made available.  As the new Hub facility only has 20 places for transitional care and 20 places for independent living it is assumed that any additional demand, arising from those who cannot live independently, will have to be met by the private sector.

Joe Fagan, Leader of South Lanarkshire Labour Group

Councillor Joe Fagan, Leader of South Lanarkshire Labour Group

Councillor Joe Fagan, Leader of South Lanarkshire Labour, said:

These are the biggest changes to care home provision in South Lanarkshire in over twenty years and the way this has been handled by the SNP Administration has been completely and utterly shambolic. While the last Labour Administration set aside £18 million to invest in new care facilities and did so with cross-party support, the plans voted through by the SNP and Tories will mean care home closures and cuts to bed numbers. The people of South Lanarkshire have not been properly consulted and councillors have still not been given the assurances they need and deserve.

Although Kirkton House and McWhirter house have been targeted first it is also proposed to close McClymont House in Lanark and Canderavon House in Stonehouse at a later date to be replaced by another facility of some kind.  Even if they are replaced with a new facility of the same capacity, which is by no means guaranteed, it does mean that either Lanark or Stonehouse will lose a care home.

the last Labour Administration set aside £18 million to invest in new care facilities

All four of the care homes being closed or proposed to close were rated “very good” or “good” in all categories rated by the Care Commission at their most recent assessments.

Posted by HLSadmin

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