Back to square one

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FIFE Council has failed to find a suitable private or not-for-profit provider to take on its care homes.

Following the decision taken by councillors in February to close all 10 of Fife’s council-run care homes - including Kirkcaldy’s Appin House and Raith Gates - and move residents to private sector or not-for-profit homes once they were built, the local authority had invited submissions from interested parties during a recent procurement process.

However, only two private companies submitted tenders to build new homes and an evaluation panel deemed both unsuitable last week as neither met the Council’s requirements.

The Council will now look at the next steps, but Peter Grant, leader of the administration, warned things could take a lot longer than originally hoped.

Up to standard

Cllr Grant said: “Our care homes are coming to the end of their life, but will still be up to standard for some considerable time.

“If we were to replace them all it would take between 10 and 20 years, but if someone else was to do it it may be that it is possible to do it quicker.

“As it turned out, when it came to people putting formal offers in, there was not as much interest as we expected.

“It’s going to be a longer timescale, so what we have to do in the meantime is make sure in addition to the couple of million pounds for care and maintenance of the homes already set aside we are going to need additional resources.

“Simply allowing the homes to fall into serious disrepair will not be an option.”

Council members will now take stock and a report is scheduled to go before the next social work and health committee meeting on November 15.

“There’s a number of possible solutions to look at,” Cllr Grant told the Press.

“By the time we have the next meeting of the social work and health committee in just over a month it’s unrealistic to expect the head of service to come up with a completely new set of proposals.

“We’ll probably say to officers thanks for the work you’ve done so far, but could you go back and look again at the options considered previously.

“There may be some suggestions they didn’t take up in the past as it was going to take too long, but if we know the timescale is longer now it may be worth looking at these again.”

Rona Laing, head of older people services, added: “The welfare of service users and families is our first priority.

“This will continue with no change to the way we run or operate our care homes.”