Council To Close Park House In June

Park House

Scilly’s Council has announced that it will close the islands’ only residential care home, Park House, in June, despite councilors expressing “no appetite” for the service to end.

At the last Full Council Meeting on 7th March, Senior Officer for Community Services Aisling Hick told councilors that the decision to close Park House, based on safe staffing levels, would be taken by her alone, as the responsible officer, and not by elected members.

In a statement issued today, the Council says the decision is not due to financial constraints but due to “significant recruitment issues, which mean that the service is unable to ensure a minimum safe level of staffing to meet the needs of Park House residents.”

They say that, “the level of vacancies within the service is too high and the current staffing arrangements are not a viable medium or long term option. If we do not act now it is expected that standards within the home will begin to decline and we need to make preparations before the situation deteriorates.”

The authority says it is, “working closely with residents and their families to identify an appropriate alternative care arrangement to meet each person’s individual needs and requirements.”

They say they expect to continue providing home care services for islands’ residents, including overnight in-home care, but will no longer be able to provide overnight accommodation.

It’s likely that residents requiring such higher levels of care will need to make arrangements on the mainland.

The decision will come as a blow to many islanders who have expressed their concern over the potential closure of Park House.

Last year, former islands’ GP and then councilor Dr Adrian Davis described sending elderly islanders to the mainland for care as “a death sentence,” due to the unfamiliar surroundings and the difficulty for friends and family to visit them.

The council is holding a public meeting in the Town Hall tomorrow (21st March) at 4.30pm to discuss the closure.

23 Responses to Council To Close Park House In June

  1. DCB April 12, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Very encouraging to read there will be a recruitment incentive for Park House staff. It will demonstrate to the community how society value our older people It is a shame that Cornwall and I.O.S AgeUK do not follow the Council of the Isles of Scilly example. This organization which advocates that for the needs of the elderly at the center of their work are advertising for Home-Care Leads at the minimum wage of £7.50 an hour on a zero hour contract. Not even a living wage and reflects AgeUK view point on the care workers they require to support the most vulnerable in our community. Lowest possible wage and the lowest possible hours.

    • High Lanes Drifter April 13, 2017 at 9:51 am

      The community didn’t need a demonstration, quite the reverse our community stood up and demonstrated to the worst chairman, vice chairman and chief executive in the history of the Islands that we had not only had enough of their crass fumbling ineptitude, but more than this we were not going to let them get away with the irreversible denigration of the values inherent in the fabric of our society

  2. Pete April 1, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    To those who are even thinking about closing Park House. Think again very carefully, as YOU may need this facility one day. Unless YOU want to be shipped of to the Mainland when your time comes.

  3. DCB March 31, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    The focus of this ST item is the announcement that Park House would close in June and the fiasco of the public meeting called in a desperate bid by Isles of Scilly Council Senior Officers to save face. It may-be-so, that the situation at Park House is a wider symptom of incompetence within our senior council officer hierarchy and notwithstanding this point of view and whether there is evidence to support it, the human story must not be pushed to the sideline. The story of very elderly people, some no doubt very frail, with dementia being sent away from THEIR home to live at the rest of their days away from what has become familiar to them. This decision goes beyond what is acceptable in this society.

  4. Adrian AV March 30, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    This has upset me since I first read it a few days . The staff at Park House were kind and loving to Uncle John in his last few months there and I’m sure that everyone will echo this comment. The option of not having a residential care home on Scilly is really bizarre.

    It’s worth exploring the delegated powers of local authority council members and officers and questioning Aisling Hick’s assertion that she alone takes the closure decision.

    Read the Annual Governance Statement 2015-16. It may contain lots of weasel words but ……
    Paragraph 3.4.3 – The Chief Executive, as Head of Paid Service, is accountable for the delivery of the Council’s services, its budget, the work of Council employees and the work of contractors and agencies who deliver services to the community. Full Council is responsible for the appointment of the Chief Executive.

    Comes back to “the buck stops with the Chief Executive” and the Full Council is responsible for appointing the Chief Exec. – so the buck really stops with the Council.

    Paragraph 3.4.7 – All local authorities with social services responsibility in England are required to appoint an officer as the Director of Adult Social Services. This role has been designated to the Senior Manager: Services to our Community. This statutory role is accountable for the delivery of local authority social services functions listed in Schedule 1 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970 (as amended) in respect of adults (other than those services for which the Director of Children’s Services is responsible).

    The Council has social services responsibility. An appointed officer has “Accountable for the delivery of ………services …..” – Not for taking decisions on closing them down – that must be the Responsibility of the Council.

    So, Council, it’s down to you. Get onto your hind legs and act!

    • Toxic Brand March 31, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      Amongst many other issues that form the backdrop to this current pantomime the present council membership, far from being the “experts”, is instead a deep font of ignorance.
      I seriously doubt if more than a very few members can interpret Council Standing Orders and fewer have the wit to use them. The abject paucity of knowledge and associated member and officer gumption in relation to financial regulations is surely high among the reasons that the External Auditor has had to invoke his powers to refer the council to the Secretary of State. Who could criticise his actions given the embarrassing mess presented as the end of year accounts.
      The Chief Executive is seemingly unschooled in local government legislation and despite the 100K + salary, apparently lacks the incentive to find the right Whitehall doors to knock on; his poor leadership skills were clearly exhibited at the public meeting.
      The Chairman thought that gaining office would bring her kudos both within and outside the community, instead she will retain notoriety as the principal architect of the wanton decline of the Council of The Isles of Scilly; the latest symptom of which is the impending failure of Adult Services.

  5. Despairing visitor March 27, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    A thought crossed my mind whilst reading jenni’s point – what does the ” chief executive ” do to earn his very high salary? This is most definitely an example where he should have chaired and run the meeting. Or is he just an overpaid figurehead ?

  6. Adam Morton, St.Martins March 27, 2017 at 9:43 am

    I would suggest that far from inadequate provision for the elderly,this is actually a case of over representation for them to the point there is no one young enough left to look after them!
    Even the last Council meeting they voted against allowing people with significant work commitments from standing!

  7. DCB March 24, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    It is shameful and deeply disturbing that an island which prides on being friendly and the fortunate isles would even contemplate the closure of their only care home before something better is in place. I attended a meeting with nearly 300 other concerned people, many more could not get into the Town Hall and witnessed, but could not clearly hear because of exceptionally inept planning, the public humiliation of the Senior Isles of Scilly Council Officers, who left the Director of the services to carry the meeting on her own. We watched in utter disbelief a staff meeting held in public. We watched in utter disbelief the senior people either paid or elected to manage our services distance themselves from the problem, just leaving one person to absorb the feelings of incredulity from the public.
    What has this proud society come to, when there is such disregard for human dignity. Not just the dignity of the elderly people living in the care home, but the dignity of the staff who felt the only way they could be heard was to stand up and speak in a public meeting and the dignity of the one council senior office who had prepared for the meeting and was not provided with support from her colleagues. And we call ourselves civilized.

    • Jenni R March 24, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      You are absolutely right, a Chief Executive worthy of the name would have sat at the table and properly conducted the business of the meeting and he should have introduced his colleagues and assisted with the proceedings. He should have also sought to shoulder some of the load placed on his service head; as it was his performance was really very uninspiring,
      The Chairman of Council should have been there from the start sitting alongside her fellow councillor appropriately facing the public instead of scampering in from the side lines to interject to little effect whenever she felt like it.
      The public address system was just dreadful but frankly no more than you might expect from an organisation that these days isn’t capable of doing justice to the term.
      The last four years have, to my recollection, been the worst in the life of our Council and it really is time to ask the chairman not to seek the chair again, even if she makes it back as a member at all. Likewise the vice chairman should think hard about his performance and that of our Council whilst he has been in office and take a step back for the sake of the community.

  8. GD March 24, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Can the CEO, Snr staff and Councillors give more support to the staff at Park House to keep it open as you have all got the aptitude to do this…….you are so good at completing projects regardless of cost, so here is another one for you to deal with.

    YOU WILL NOT tear the heart and soul out of this close community by closing our only Care Home and shipping our elderly to the mainland as if we don’t care about them. HOW DARE YOU EVEN THINK OF IT. We will not allow this to happen.

    Get on with the task and sort this issue out……it’s your job and what you are all paid to do
    to serve your community well not rip and tear it apart.

    Whilst you deal with the pay increments for these loyal carers please consider only their increments and not people who work at the Town Hall. If Town hall employees want an increment they should transfer now to Park House and not quibble about who gets an increment and why. These increments are to save Park House and the service which the staff provide. It is a special service provided by very special and specialist staff and there is only a minority of persons anywhere in society who can provide these tasks and service to their community. Not many of us could do that job! They should be rewarded for their time and commitment which we all discovered they provide a fantastic service, at the recent meeting and the hours of commitment which they give for the sake of our elderly. Time when most of us are enjoying ourselves in the pub…..they will be mopping up and caring for the elderly. So give them that backing at least. The increment is well deserved and will/should attract more Carers to fill the vacant positions……hopefully at least.

    If it doesn’t then we as a community will have to step up and volunteer our services until the right persons can be found. Nothing will stop us from keeping Park House open for business. Rules and Regulations will go out of the Window!

    So come on Town Hall where is your support, give us your heart and show us what you can do.

  9. High Lanes Drifter March 22, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Lest we forget, let us consider your end of term report Chairman.

    Porthcressa, an improvement but badly managed and crazily overspent, we grumbled.
    The airport, another trademark fiasco and eye wateringly overspent, again we grumbled.
    Staff reorganisation that lacked sound direction and ground down morale, to no benefit.
    A road improvement scheme that like the curate’s egg is only good in parts and overspent.
    End of year accounting that dragged on and on and ended in ridicule and farce.
    Reserves stated at a much diminished half a million and then corrected to forty thousand!
    A truly half baked waste strategy that is costing five hundred pounds per citizen.
    Then we come to Park House and the care of our elderly citizens and by God you managed to grab our attention, just about every islander who could walk turned out to a meeting in the Town Hall on a filthy evening to look you in the eye and demand to know why once again we were being forced to contemplate impending failure? In case you missed the undercurrent in the room I suggest to you it was one of unbridled seething anger. We didn’t need a haughty lecture on the process of calling a meeting, you have informal meetings at the drop of a hat so sort the problem and nod it through at your already scheduled meet.
    Your legacy cannot be other than one of failure but if you allow Park House to fall apart I am confident that our judgement will be served cold at the next election.

    • March 22, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      but, on the other hand there’s the innnonovation centre and the prospect of lower electicity bills.

      • March 23, 2017 at 12:16 pm

        To quote John McEnroe, “you cannot be serious!”.

        • pigs@landsend.fog March 23, 2017 at 8:46 pm

          .. we may jest, but that end of term report can’t come soon enough! I’m sure it will appear on Wikipedia and be put in the archives of the museum,. Thank you ScillyToday for your excellent journalism over the years.

  10. Hugh Towner March 21, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    I expect a decision of this magnitude needs to follow some process, and the Standing Orders and Terms of reference of the committees would make it clear what process that is. Unfortunately these are not on the council website, but I would hazard that the decision is not delegated to a single officer under this process and requires wider approval before announcement.

    It is not clear is what change has brought about the sudden difficulty in operating a care home in the future versus today, the housing problem has always existed on Scilly (of course it’s unfortunate that the Council sold off the old CEOs’ house, and hasn’t delivered affordable housing on existing earmarked sites). But somehow teachers, air traffic controllers and shop workers are employed and housed, not to mention the hundreds of temporary construction staff we have seen in recent years. It doesn’t add up. Why was this issue not flagged in the island futures project?

    Perhaps with the redevelopment of the old school in sight, this should be earmarked for the provision of a new care home and the accommodation to staff it. I imagine this something the electorate would want to see in the local plan, when it is (eventually) put to referendum for approval. Since the council has linked the development of the school site with the provision of care facilities I will vote against adopting a local plan that does not deliver this.

  11. Pete March 21, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    It comes has no surprise. This has been talked about and planned for a few years. That’s why the facilities e.g. building,recruitment of staff, training new staff, has been let slide. This is now another means of employment dispensed with for the young of the Islands.

  12. Penny March 21, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    I see that the Council Tax demand for 2017/2018 includes a levy of 3% for adult social care, I guess that won’t happen now or will we get a refund?

  13. Ewart Less March 21, 2017 at 11:20 am

    This council is lurching from one failure to the next with relentless monotony, whilst the least capable chairman and vice chairman we have ever had proclaim their expertise.
    Where is our CEO at the moment, on his ‘hols’,…. timing is everything!

  14. GD March 21, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Can the Council of the IOS demonstrate that they have done everything possible to prevent the closure of Park House? Particularly when remaining ‘open’ is in the best interests of the Care Home residents and the Islands’ future Care Home residents….it will come to us all and our friends and familiesone day soon. WE must demonstrate to the Council that we will NOT let this happen, not on our Islands. Petitions, demonstrations everything must come out of the bag here to prevent this from happening we can’t just sit around and watch this happen. We must protect the future care of our elderly residents just like we protect our children who are vulnerable.

    What other responsibilities will our Council give over to the Mainland Authority. Is this the start of the handover? Their duty is to protect their residents and service the Islands, that’s what we pay for and expect from our Council.
    Where is their heart in closing a well needed Care Home and sending family and friends to be cared for on the mainland. SHAME ON YOU ALL I say! You don’t deserve to be in your jobs.

    • Hudson March 21, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      A certain person used to rant on ‘ad nauseam’ about the Council being “officer led” I haven’t heard her spout that for a while; now it seems that our self proclaimed experts are content to have their decisions taken for them leaving them free to wring their hands and claim that they are as upset as the rest of us.

  15. May March 20, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    They’ve described themselves in a nutshell: “significant recruitment issues, which mean that the [authority] is unable to ensure a minimum safe level of staffing to meet the needs of the [islands]… the current staffing arrangements are not a viable medium or long term option. If we do not act now it is expected that standards within [the authority] will… decline [furrher] and we need to make preparations before the situation deteriorates.”

  16. Peter March 20, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    If Scilly Council thinks closing Park House is going to solve the funding and staffing crisis then it has got a very big shock coming. This is my area of expertise. Finding staff to work in domiciliary care is even harder than finding people to work in residential care and the economies of scale provided by residential care mean that domiciliary care is much more expensive. It gets worse. Moving clients from full-time care to care at home does not happen except in rare cases, for the simple reason that these clients are too frail and/or vulnerable. If clients turn out to be able to manage at home then this suggests mistakes were made in originally assessing them for residential care. The next big scandal in this country is going to be about abuse of vulnerable people in their own homes due to neglect or inadequate care by domiciliary care agencies, and Scilly has just put itself right in the future spotlight as the council which made the decision to put its citizens at risk of abuse. In other words, there will be an even worse problem with “minimal level of safe staffing” once care is purely domiciliary. So, what to do? Goodness knows. This is a total mess. I did suggest on here a year or so ago that Scilly Council could turn this around to their advantage by combining care for those at Park House with that provided at the Hospital, resulting in Scilly becoming an innovative trailblazer, truly achieving the goal that other parts of the UK have failed to achieve: integrated health and social care. But Scilly Council members, with the odd exception, are not talented enough to have seized the opportunity. There is a massive scandal in Scilly waiting to happen.