Last Updated on Thursday, 24 January 2013 16:29 Written by Colin Cameron Thursday, 24 January 2013 15:20
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Argyll and Bute Council has defended itself against accusations that it failed to consult elderly residents, relatives and staff on the proposed closure of Dunoon's Struan Lodge – by citing a three-year-old consultation.
A hastily-arranged Save Struan Lodge campaign was mobilised as the news of closure proposals broke last Wednesday. An online petition had garnered the signatures of more than 500 people early this week - with many more supporters signing the petitions in shops around Dunoon.
Struan Lodge is the sole council-owned care home facility in Dunoon. Faced with severe budgetary pressures, an Argyll and Bute Council committee met last week to decide that its closure should be proposed to councillors as part of a raft of money saving measures the local authority must implement.
The move sparked widespread anger; not least at the shock nature of its announcement and absence of discussion with those it would most deeply affect.
The home is acknowledged as one of the best in Argyll and Bute. Care Commission assessments, which pay particularly close attention to local authority-run care homes, have rated it very highly. Residents speak of caring, friendly and dedicated staff and a clean environment. It is, or was, a happy place for the 11 residents.
Former council leader, Cllr Dick Walsh, opposes the plans and last week, speaking exclusively to the Standard, called on local people to rise up and fight for the much-loved facility. He was critical of the apparent lack of prior notice to those it will most affect, saying: “Unlike the closure of schools process and required consultation [surrounding that process], it would appear that our elderly do not enjoy the same protection.”
In response to questions posed by the Standard concerning the consultation process ahead of last week’s decision, a spokeswoman for Argyll and Bute Council responded: “Consultation happened in 2009 across Argyll and Bute on the future model of care for older people and whether residents and carers had a preference for the provision of council or independent care services.”
For more on Struan Lodge, and all the news from Dunoon and Cowal, see Friday’s print edition of the Standard.