‘Every Option On The Table’ For Elder Care, Says Council
Councillors have voted to look at “every option” for caring for elderly people in Scilly.
And they refused to support an amendment that would have meant closing all residential care on the islands isn’t considered as part of the analysis.
Tuesday’s Community Services Committee meeting heard how Park House has become financially unviable and unsuited for its role as a care home.
Council Chairman Amanda Martin said the home is “unfit for purpose.”
“It’s costly and unsafe and doesn’t do our residents justice,” said Amanda adding, “We shouldn’t be tied to Park House which has only been there since the seventies.”
The care home was recently rated as ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission.
Senior Adult Social Care officer Gareth Peters asked councillors to “look at all the options” for how elder care could be delivered in Scilly now and in the future.
Those options could include creating a joint NHS hospital nursing unit to care for patients with dementia and increasing the amount of community care so people could stay in their homes for as long as possible.
Councillors were broadly supportive of those approaches.
But controversially, Mr Peter’s report said there could be more use of mainland care homes for those who are assessed as unable to remain at home safely.
Cllr Colin Daly said he had personal experience of long term medical care on the mainland and described it as “a death sentence.”
He said spending seven weeks in hospital in Cornwall, without family and friends around, meant he “almost lost the will to live.”
Cllr Gordon Bilsborough proposed an amendment that removing all residential care from the islands is not an option to be considered.
Gordon said the prospect of losing local residential care was “a big worry” for many older islanders.
He said his proposal would “remove all uncertainty and fear from people’s minds, that we are going to take away residential facilities, meaning they have to go to the mainland.”
But after initially seconding that proposal, Cllr Steve Sims subsequently withdrew his support, so the amendment could not go to the vote.
Cllr Marian Bennett said she expected “a wide public consultation” on the issue.
But she said that “cannot be conducted properly against a background of fear – fear of people being sent to the mainland – fear of Park House closing.”
Marian proposed getting independent and objective advice on the options and agreeing a plan “after full consultation with the public.”
That addition was accepted by councillors.
Members of the committee also discussed raising the fees paid by self-funded residents at Park House by 70%.
Mr Peters said each bed costs the Council around £1,300 per week but residents are only charged £534, or £644 for those with dementia.
That meant the Council was subsidising the cost by over a half, he said.
The new charges would mean residents would be paying 70% of the true cost, with the Council subsidising the rest.
But Cllr Martin said that wouldn’t necessarily continue in the future, and people could have to pay the full price.
Cllr Bennett asked whether the charges could be phased in over two years to avoid a sudden financial shock for residents.
But Mr Peters said any phasing would add further pressure to the service and Cllr Martin wanted it to be “very, very short term or else the service is in danger.”
No decision on that was made by councillors. Instead, officers will investigate how the increases will be introduced.