D-day for care homes

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CRUNCH decisions about the future of North Eden House in Cupar are due to be made in a few days’ time in the light of a revealing report that shows that Fifers are overwhelmingly in favour of care homes remaining in the hands of the local authority.

The results of a Kingdom-wide consultation about Fife Council’s care facilities were published this week and will be presented to the social work and health committee on Tuesday, February 1.

They show that 75 per cent of more than 600 respondents wanted to see care homes owned and run by Fife Council and only two per cent favoured moving residents into new-build homes operated by the private and not-for-profit sectors.

North Eden is one of seven care homes facing an uncertain future as the cash-strapped council endeavours to make savings of around £120 million over the next four years.

Having agreed two years ago to replace all 10 of its homes, the council is already committed to two new-builds in Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline to replace the existing three, but in the face of financial constraints now needs to decide the fate of the rest.

Councillors at Tuesday’s meeting will have to consider whether the local authority should press ahead with plans to replace all the care homes — which could involve having to invoke cost-cutting measures such as scaling down the design of the new facilities in Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline — or whether the responsibility should be passed to the private and not-for-profit sectors.

STANDARDS

It costs £809 a week to keep a resident in a council-run care home like North Eden, compared with just £475.66 a week in the independent sector.

According to Fife Council, the difference is due to the regulations that apply to local authorities, which affect operating costs, and has nothing to do with the level of care provided by staff.

Concerns that there would be a fall in standards if the homes were run privately were unfounded, insists social work boss Stephen Moore.

Rona Laing, head of older people’s services, said: “Whilst, as officers, we have been tasked to maximise every penny received, ultimately the decision regarding the future of residential, respite and day care services in Fife will be taken by elected members.

“No matter what shape older people services takes in the months and years ahead, Fife Council remains committed to ensuring that those who are most vulnerable receive the highest quality care and support.”

Meanwhile, campaigners fighting against the possible closure of North Eden House were due to meet senior councillors last night (Thursday) to put their case for its retention after a petition circulated throughout north east Fife attracted some 4000 signatures.

At their meeting on Tuesday, Cupar Community Council unanimously threw their weight behind the Save North Eden House campaign, condemning the prospect of residents having to move elsewhere as ‘brutal.’