Care home closure ‘rings alarm bells’ across sector

A charity for older people is calling for urgent action to protect vulnerable residents amid rising costs and closures across Scotland’s care sector.

The call follows the announcement by Renaissance Care that it plans to close its Levenhall Care Home in Musselburgh.

One of Scotland’s largest care providers, Renaissance also operates homes in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Forres, Peterhead and Blairgowrie. Chairman Robert Kilgour has said the sector is struggling due to rising costs.

Age Scotland is urging providers and commissioners to work together to prevent similar closures and ensure a smooth transition for the residents affected. The charity has called for a compulsory risk register for care homes, as recommended by the Residential Care Taskforce in March 2015, to anticipate and mitigate similar closures in future.

Brian Sloan, Age Scotland’s chief executive, said: “Any closure will have a serious impact on the health of vulnerable residents, and moving them could even put their lives at risk. Poorly planned moves are extremely stressful for older people and can be extremely detrimental to their physical and mental health. We hope that Renaissance is working with local authorities and the Scottish Government to protect older people and their families.

“We’re very concerned about the increasing problems facing the sector. This announcement is a warning bell and we’re aware that there are similar problems throughout the country. With Brexit on the horizon, the current issues around recruiting staff are likely to get worse.

“We would urge councils, the Scottish Government and providers to get round the table and work together to mitigate similar issues. With 80 per cent of care home places provided by the private sector, there is always a risk that they will be affected by financial difficulties or other emergencies.

“Putting in place an effective contingency planning process could ensure that early action is taken to prevent closure or ensure a smooth transition.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Funding through the national care home contract has increased by 13.2% per week from 2015-16 to 2017-18, allowing independent care providers to invest in staff, quality of service, and to take a reasonable return from the business.”

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