Residents of Perth Council Care Home under threat of eviction.

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The Save Parkdale Campaign have published the release below to try and raise awareness of their efforts to save Parkdale.   Please take a few minutes to support their campaign by writing to Perth and Kinross Intergration Joint Board to support Parkdale.

Council run residential care homes in Perthshire are under threat of closure as a consequence of budget savings.

Perth and Kinross Council in tandem with the NHS have undertaken a review of residential care homes under the aegis of the Integration Joint Board which is due to make its decision on the four options under consideration at its meeting on 26 January. Family and friends of the residents of Parkdale RCH are increasingly fearful that the decision will be to effectively evict their loved ones from their homes. Despite being given assurances that alternative “places of our choice” would be found in other care homes operated by the independent sector, we are all too aware of the logistical difficulties, deficiencies in the quality of care and not least the hugely detrimental impact upon the physical and mental welfare and well-being of our elderly relatives. Indeed we fundamentally challenge the assertion that the Council will find alternative places “of our choice”.

The availability of care home places is now under serious threat in the independent care sector as evidenced by the recent announcement (November 2017) by Bield of their intention to close 12 care homes in Scotland. Moreover, the Chief Executive of Scottish Care, Dr. Donald Macaskill the independent care sector spokesperson has spoken of a crisis in the sector due to underfunding and the difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff. He predicted futher care home closures. This is borne out by the Care Inspectorate statistics which show that for the 6th year running closures have exceeded new openings, this despite an increasing ageing population.

We are told repeatedly that care for the elderly is a public policy priority but that “more and more older people are choosing to be supported at home so that they can keep living independently”. We have no argument with this statement by the Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) for Perth and Kinross. However, the reality is, in our collective experience, very different. Care at home support is very limited in its ability and capacity to adequately deal with the needs of elderly and frail people living alone, especially when they have severe mobility problems or suffer from dementia. In those circumstances for example, 24/7 care support is required, hence the need for residential care homes.

Also, from a national policy perspective the HSCP advocates greater integration between Social Care Services and the NHS. This is very much predicated on tackling the long-standing problem of ‘bed blocking’, where following a hospital admission and treatment the hospital is anxious to discharge the elderly patient. This is frequently delayed due to difficulties in putting in place an adequate ‘care package’ to allow the person to return home safely. Indeed, according to an FOI obtained by Scottish Labour (January 2018), “at least 1,152 patients died between March 2015 and 2017 while waiting to be discharged from hospital”. It should be noted in this regard that the cost of a hospital bed is considerably higher than a care home bed.

To be fair to the HSCP a component of their integration strategy and closer working in dealing with bed blocking is to establish intermediate care units in residential care homes. This would provide a transitional arrangement from hospital to home where elderly patients can be discharged from hospital to a care home environment, while the appropriate care package is being organised.

This proposed way forward is under consideration for the Council owned home of Parkdale in Auchterarder and Dalweem in Aberfeldy. This approach not only addresses the ‘bed blocking’ crisis but will lead to savings in the NHS budget. It will also importantly retain vital

and highly valuable care home facilities when demand is increasing and overall capacity is reducing in the sector.

Finally, we would like to highlight the standard and quality of care at Parkdale in particular, which has been consistently awarded the highest scores in the Care Inspectorate assessment. This is a modern, purpose built care home with en suite facilities supported by a dedicated staff team who day in day out provide the best possible care, including palliative and end of life provision. While we are only too well aware, and understand the reticence if not outright resistance of elderly people to move to a care home, not least because of the bad press associated with private care homes, our elderly relatives are very comfortable and happy in their new home.

You will understand therefore our very real fear that a decision to evict our family members from their home and to be forcibly separated from fellow residents and carers whom they regard as family, will cause severe emotional and mental stress and jeopardise their future health and life expectancy.

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