Claims that the care home in Garrabost, Lewis is set to close on a permanent basis have been denied by the Comhairle.
But concerns that a temporary ‘suspension in admissions’ could become a permanent closure have been expressed in the local community, with and one prominent ex-councillor vowing that a ‘vigorous local campaign’ to keep the unit open will now be organised.
A spokesperson for the Comhairle said: “Garrabost Care Home is not closing. There is a ‘suspension in admissions’ in line with an Integration Joint Board (IJB) decision.
“Whilst the service looks to modernise and adapt its estate, Garrabost (and similar units) have been identified as not being fully up to date in terms of today’s care models. We hope to provide a model of care more in keeping with 2018 best practice.
“A consultation process is ongoing with staff and service users to explore options.
“Our dedicated, motivated and hugely professional staff, working in this vital service will continue to ensure we can deliver the best outcomes for vulnerable people.”
Ex-Comhairle councillor, Donald John MacSween, has called for the care home to remain open until a suitable alternative facility in the local community has been identified, and called the decision to close the unit, even on a temporary basis, ‘scandalous’.
Mr MacSween said: “The care of vulnerable and sick people should be a priority within our communities. This home is supported by the community, it is well used and running it down when it is needed locally is scandalous.”
Reports suggest that there are are currently two residents in the home, both aged over 80, and that they are being moved to other residential accommodation.
The cost of maintaining the home is believed to be in excess of £210k per year.
Unconfirmed official reports also suggest that the existing staff have been through ‘a consultation process and offered similar work, elsewhere, and staff shortages – with the Comhairle currently having more than 100 care work vacancies – are also believed to be a contributing factor in the suspension of admissions.
KEPT IN HOSPITAL
One local resident, who asked not to be named, has raised concerns that an elderly relative is being kept in hospital due to a lack of suitable local care facilities, and claims that the possibility of a care home place being provided on the mainland in the interim has been discussed.
The local resident attacked the decision to ‘mothball’ the home, saying: “This is a real loss to our community, and we will fight to keep it open.”
Mr MacSween was one of a group of Point councillors who previously fought a campaign to keep the care unit in Garrabost open at a time when other care homes were being closed, and Mr MacSween has also claimed that the decision to shut the home on a temporary basis was taken “without community consultation”.