SAVE STRUAN LODGE
Last Updated on Friday, 18 January 2013 11:44 Written by Colin Cameron Friday, 18 January 2013 11:41
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A petition has been set up to save Dunoon care home Struan Lodge, which Argyll and Bute Council hopes to close to save money.
The petition can be signed online HERE, or in a number of Cowal shops, including The Observer Shop at 219 Argyll Street, Dunoon.
The local authority’s adult services special committee met on Tuesday to discuss Struan Lodge, and will now recommend that councillors “move forward with a market test to assess private and independent care sector interest in developing nursing care places and extra care housing” where it currently runs care homes.
A statement from Argyll and Bute Council goes on: “The committee has also taken into account the full cost of services and noted that a re-design of provision could be delivered more efficiently and help to raise the standard of care across the board in Argyll and Bute.
“The move will help the council ensure there is the right provision of consistent high quality and cost effective places in each of the four areas of Argyll and Bute.
“The committee has also taken into account the excess capacity in the independent residential care sector in Cowal and will recommend to the council at its February meeting that Struan Lodge should close.
“If the council agrees to this, a detailed closure plan involving residents and their families will be developed.”
Lead councillor for adult services, Anne Horn, said: “The committee has looked at care provision very carefully. There is an over-supply of care home spaces in Cowal and 44 vacancies at the moment, which is an increasing trend.
“We have also taken into account the suitability and condition of buildings to meet future needs.
“I understand this may be unsettling for residents and families and I would like to reassure them the council’s top priority is making sure that good quality care is available locally for everyone requiring this service now and in the future.
“There are other care homes in the Cowal area where there are a significant number of places available and the council will work in partnership with these homes to raise the overall quality of care.”
The home is fully occupied, with ten residents along with a respite bed, as well as around 19 people attending the day care service at the Bencorrum Brae facility.
Around nine full time and 14 part time staff are employed at the home.
The news was met with an immediate outcry from number of local people with knowledge of Struan Lodge.
On man who is implacably opposed to the move is councillor Dick Walsh, who told the Standard: “Our community faces the prospect of a much valued care home, with high quality care, being removed from us forever with also the loss of dedicated and very professional high quality staff.
“This is not at all acceptable and I hope - like the ferries issue - our community will rise and support our opposition to this proposal.”
He also expressed concern for the residents: “What this closure will mean for our elderly is that they will be moved to other independent care providers in the area if this position persists,” he said.
“One gentleman who is 101 years of age has already been moved from a home following its closure and has settled at Struan Lodge. He now faces the prospect of being moved again.”
He concluded: “No consultation or discussion has taken place with clients, their relatives, carers or staff prior to this action.”
Raymund Madill, of campaign organisation Dunoon and Cowal Justice and Peace Group, said: “The idea that by farming out these services to private companies, driven by the profit motive, you can somehow raise the standard of care is ludicrous.
“This is a cost driven exercise designed to transfer costs from the council's books to other places.
“Currently they are struggling to provide a reduced service to the elderly in their own homes because I hear many experienced care workers are just not re-applying for their jobs - so disgusted are they by their treatment.
“More care in the home with fewer hours for each client, fewer workers available while increasing the demand sounds like a recipe for disaster.”
The figures produced by the council at Tuesday’s meeting have also been questioned by a number of sources close to the authority.
The committee’s decision was arrived at purely on cost grounds. The cost of care at Struan Lodge is quoted in the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting at £1,621 per week per resident, as opposed to independent sector rates (residential) of £487.
The Standard understands that a number of Struan Lodge residents are, in fact, paying for their own care.
As the news broke yesterday (Thursday), a concerned reader contacted the Standard to say: “Private patients pay much more than the national rates per week. This would mean that such patients should not be included in the costs quoted in council documents.”
The reader added: “And what is the actual cost of private care locally in Dunoon and Cowal?
A decision by councillors on the closure of Struan Lodge is expected either at a council meeting next week or during early February.