Lewis care units status quo ‘not an option’

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Public consultation meetings on the future of the three care units in Carloway, Crowlista and Garrabost are set to go ahead after last week’s meeting of the Western Isles Integration Joint Board (IJB), but the IJB’s chief officer has warned that despite the option being a part of the consultation, the status quo is ‘not an option’.

Last week the IJB considered proposals for the care units that recommended the closure of two of the units with a third being redeveloped into a respite care facility, with the resources freed-up being shared between homecare services and budget savings.

But, concerns were expressed at the the IJB meeting over the closures.

Councillor Norman A MacDonald raised concerns on the closure of the units in local communities, stating: “This flies in the face of us investing in communities and goes against policies for transformational change. I’m sure there are things we could be doing better. The requirement for respite is somethign that we should look at. There are nine respite beds at Bethesda, and we could double that number if we don’t go down to having just one unit open.

“We must make sure that we don’t do this as a knee-jerk reaction to budget challenges. We need to be very careful and we should take a very clear view of what we could lose in not having these establishments.”

Chief Officer of the IJB, Dr Ron Culley, stated that the drop-off in demand for places at the care units was not a temporary position, and had been prompted by the increased provision of the home care service in terms of the complexity of cases that could now be handled in the home, and the extension of the working hours of the home care service enabling more people to stay in their own homes.

Dr Culley said: “We must make it clear that the status quo is not an option and make sure that the consultation papers describe why it is not.

Chair of the IJB, Cllr Kenny John MacLeod, said: “The status quo across all services of the IJB is not sustainable. We have more demands than we have resources to meet them.”

Public consultation meetings on the future of three care units are set to take place in Garrabost, Carloway and Crowlista ahead of the next meeting of the IJB in March.