Scottish Government urged to prevent Bield care home closures

Public sector union Unison is calling on the Scottish Government to stop the closure of 12 care homes run by Bield Housing and Care.

Bield outlined plans to withdraw from all registered care home provision in October last year as part of a new Business Strategy that it said “will secure its long-term future and ensure it can continue to provide high quality housing and associated services for older people in Scotland”.

The organisation intends to close care homes in Edinburgh, Falkirk, Glasgow, Borders, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian by summer 2018.

But speaking at a public meeting called by families of those affected by the planned closures, Unison warned that the move would be a “disaster”, with about 160 elderly people with dependent needs, including 24 hour personal care and feeding assistance, losing their homes.

According to the union, many of the residents are over 90 years old and up to 200 qualified registered care workers are being made compulsorily redundant.

Unison Scotland said it is supporting the families’ campaign to prevent the closure programme and to continue the debate about elderly care provision, the role of the integrated joint boards and commissioning to the third and not-for profit sector.

Scottish organiser John Gallacher said: “Unison has been supporting families, lobbying hard for intervention to stop Bield’s care homes closure programme. We are disappointed that Scottish Government ministers seem content to stand by and let the closures happen, when the lives of vulnerable elderly people are at risk, and the jobs of essential care workers in many Scottish communities are being jettisoned. If it goes ahead it will be a disaster.

“New integrated joint boards should be subjected to proper political and public scrutiny and held accountable for allowing such damaging developments to take place within ridiculously short timescales.”

A spokesperson for Bield told the BBC that the care homes had been loss-making for a number of years.

“Despite many attempts to research and consider alternative models to address the challenges, Bield have regrettably not been able to find a solution that ensures financial viability while maintaining high standards of care.”

Although Bield is withdrawing from the care home market, it insists it has developed a five-year strategy to create a “new-look organisation” which will continue to provide valuable services for older people.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman added: “We recognise how unsettling this decision has been for all the residents, families and employees affected.

“We are working with Bield and all relevant agencies to ensure that residents’ care needs continue to be met.

“The cabinet secretary for health and sport is due to meet the chief executive of Bield Housing and Care later this month to discuss progress.”

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