Future of Island care units could go to public consultation

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The future of the care units in Carloway, Crowlista and Garrabost could now be the subject of a public consultation exercise that could see one of the units become a dedicated service for respite care, with the other two units closing.

The Western Isles’ Integrated Joint Board (IJB) will consider a number of proposals for the future of the units at its meeting on Wednesday.

The meeting will hear that demand for the care units is falling due to significant changes in home care provision, with the home care service now offering 19-hour cover per day and a more individually-focussed service, and with greater demand for ‘high-tariff’ residential care.

The proposal paper suggests that the public be consulted on specific options, including maintaining the status quo; the redevelopment of one of the three care units into a respite care facility, with the residual resource being taken as a saving as a result of two remaining care units closing, and, the IJB’s stated ‘preferred option’ for the respite unit but with the residual resource split between homecare and savings.

The consultation will also look at an alternative proposals put forward by respondents to the consultation.

If the public consultation proceeds, there will also be consideration about ‘whether there is a specific rationale for supporting one care unit’s retention over another (e.g. community resilience) and whether the community or another public body would have an interest in vacated premises’.

The IJB paper proposes three public meetings in Garrabost, Carloway and Crowlista, ahead of returning to the IJB with a firm proposal in March.

The total running costs of the three care units is currently £435k, inclusive of staff and operating costs.

A redesign of one of the units to become a provider of respite care, would, the IJB report suggests, cost in the region of £190k per annum.

If the IJB’s preferred option progresses, the financial implications for the move could, according to IJB figures, include £190k per annum for respite care costs, £100k per annum transfer to homecare and £145k recurring saving against IJB budget gap.

The IJB report concludes: ‘If we pursue our preferred option, we will be transferring an inefficient resource into service which will add value, while setting some money aside to go against the savings target. The additional homecare hours would help reduce the waiting list and the respite facility would allow us to increase overall capacity in line with our duties under the Carers Act’.