Park House Future In The Hands Of Council Officers, Elected Members Told

Park House

Scilly’s Senior Officer For Community Services has said she will make the decision on the future of Park House, not elected members.

Aisling Hick was speaking at the recent Full Council meeting in response to a question from Cllr Gordon Bilsborough, who wanted a guarantee that the islands’ only care home would remain open, despite budget pressures on the Council.

Mrs Hick told councillors there was a “recruitment crisis” at the facility and if this couldn’t be overcome, “I, as a nominated individual, will make a decision about the ongoing viability of Park House.”

“I’m afraid that will not be a member decision,” she added. “It will be about the safety of care we provide to those residents.”

She also rebuked the Vice Chairman of Council, Cllr Steve Sims, for saying there was, “No appetite within the authority for closing Park House.”

Aisling said this was, “not actually helpful.”

Residents have expressed concern that closure of Park House, either because of financial constraints or operational issues, could lead to patients having to take up residential care on the mainland.

That was described last year as, “a death sentence” by former islands’ GP Dr Adrian Davis, who later resigned as a councillor.

The crisis at Park House was discussed by members as part of their annual budget setting review.

Members were told by Head of Finance Andy Brown that, unlike many local authorities in the UK, the money available to Scilly’s Council was actually increasing by 1.1%.

Even so, council tax is set to rise by 4.99%, including a 3% extra charge for social care. This is the maximum increase possible without a local referendum.

But a £455,000 hole in the budget means savings will still be required in order for the Council to balance the books.

Savings will include £200,000 on management of waste, £49,000 from reducing the frequency of waste collections and street sweeping and £20,000 from the Library and Learning budget.

Councillors also agreed to use money from the so-called ‘trading accounts’ – the airport, housing and water – to bolster their usable cash.

It means that not all the money raised by the those services will now go into their individual reserves – the reason previously given by councillors for raising airport and water fees above the rate of inflation.

13 Responses to Park House Future In The Hands Of Council Officers, Elected Members Told

  1. Tom Gordon March 20, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    If finance is not the problem then there can only really be two other genuine issues – housing and the wage rates paid.
    Hotels can find accomodation for their staff without having to permanently close their businesses, even though they offer only seasonal work.
    If you pay the staff more, then there are plenty of already trained people on the mainland.

    • Adam Morton, St.Martins March 23, 2017 at 8:45 am

      Ha ha. You reckon?! As someone who has been trying to get staff accommodation for around seven years ,I can only say the private sector has the exact same problems just without public money to throw at it! There is nowhere to rent, no money to rent it, Nowhere to build and if there was, everyone would be against it. If none of the above then there would be no electric water and drains to service it. I think there have been references on here before to the “average prospects of living in a tent or garden shed, being paid minimum wage”! Sadly we are reaching the point where even they are in short supply and if you want to employ anyone you will have to work an extra hour for each one you employ, just to get the hourly rate up to minimum wage!

      • Tom Gordon March 23, 2017 at 3:07 pm

        Park House is of course in the enviable position of having accommodation on site as per any of the hotels on the islands. The hotels typically give over some of their accommodation to staff, so why would the rest home rather shut down totally than do the same and have fewer paying residents?

  2. High Lanes Drifter March 20, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Well fellow citizens Pravda has today announced the closure of Park House at the beginning of June, what’s that you say, the public meeting is tomorrow, surely not!

    Chairman Martin RESIGN RESIGN RESIGN the Council under your stewardship is an utter disaster.

  3. terryog1 March 19, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Another good word I should have put into my previous post is ” Duty of care”.

  4. Gordon Bilsborough March 18, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    The best I can say about the Officer’s remarks at a recent Council meeting is that they displayed a complete lack of knowledge of the powers of elected Members in local government. I did not comment at the time because I suspected I would have received little support from above. I would like to know who bestowed the absolute powers of a dictator upon this person.

    This incident has increased my suspicions that there is (and has been for some time) a hidden agenda to close Park House thus making life easier for the senior management team and to cut costs. Well over a year ago, when I first suggested that closing Park House should not even be considered as an option, I did not receive any support whatsoever from either Members or Officers. I have raised the matter several times since then with the same results. I make no apology for this.

    The bottom line is that with an ageing population, there is going to be an increasing need for 24 hour residential care for those who cannot be provided with adequate care in their own homes. If Park House is closed, there will be no alternative but to ship some frail elderly people to the mainland against the wishes of their loved ones. This is something that I CANNOT accept and it is up to the Council Chairman and appropriate Senior Officers to meet the responsible Government Ministers and tell them that, as a small island community, we do not have the means to provide the facilities for our frail and elderly who are unable to take care of themselves and that adequate financial assistance must be provided. In the interim, the facilities must be kept available.

    I am aware there will always be a few people whose advanced dementia makes them uncontrollable who will need to be transferred to the mainland, but these are an exception. I realise there are problems in recruiting care staff for Park House. I am wondering if some staff who are specifically designated to Park House object to being told they must also take on care in the community roles. As I have mentioned before, the pay and terms offered to potential Park House carers and the possibility of its closure could deter some potential applicants. There is no reason why the these pay scales cannot be reviewed to reflect reality.

    The views of all candidates at the forthcoming local elections on 4 May should be known.

  5. terryog1 March 18, 2017 at 10:15 am

    It seems to me that the powers that be, there in Scilly want to get rid of a problem instead of striving to their utmost to solve a problem i.e. it’s an easy way out. Talk about negativity is it. The care of the elderly is for any community very, very important and that’s not only for Scilly but also for any other part of the world. What seems to be going on in Scilly about Park House all seems very strange.

  6. Concerned March 18, 2017 at 3:01 am

    How utterly arrogant for this officer to say that she will decide if Park House stays open or not. Surely she works for the elected members. If they say she needs to provide a safe care home, and they back that up with appropriate funding, then she jolly well needs to do it or lose her job! Does she understand her role?

    • former staff March 18, 2017 at 6:49 am

      The officer is responsible for the safety of the clients in Park House which is why she decides if park house remains open- – how utterly ignorant of you not to have worked that out!
      Park house is unsafe, years of neglect from the town hall has meant slow recruitment and this means there are not enough sufficiently trained staff to keep it open, the training that is needed is specifically in administering medication and senior carer roles. The officer is the one who will have to stand up in court and explain why she let unsafe practices happen there was a serious incident.
      You would all be quick enough to shout if there was such an incident.

    • former staff March 18, 2017 at 7:01 am

      Further more, its not a funding issue, we can’t just throw money at it and it all gets better, they are trying to recruit but its too late. Previous years of neglect from the town hall and recruitment freezes meant that positions went unfilled – it takes about 2 years to train a senior carer.

      Staff are working all the hours they can and are literally on their knees, they are all amazing and I feel for them and their clients at this uncertain time.

      • Mr Kitchener March 19, 2017 at 8:26 am

        Lions led by donkeys

    • Adam Morton, St.Martins March 18, 2017 at 7:03 am

      Far be it from me to defend the Council but from the meeting I watched , it was a case of IF sufficient staff cannot be found to to operate park house in a safe and legal manner , it will have to be closed. It has been stressed on a number of occasions that funding was NOT the problem, staff recruitment & housing was.
      Presumably the old school site ,social housing and smart grid services are the councils answer to these problems. Problems that I would point out exist for everyone not just the Council, park house or the elderly!

  7. Cathy Mainwaring March 17, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    This is a very sad situation, Park House has been there for the Community of Scilly for over 40 years. As Dr Davis said if closure occurs and the patients are sent to the mainland it will be a “Death Sentence”. The elderly have worked hard all their lives and paid their dues to the Islands. I am praying that this day never comes. My heart goes out to all Islanders and Scillonians.