Campaigners battling against Fife Council’s plan to privatise its council-run care homes for the elderly fear the plan is still on the table, reports Gail Milne.
The Executive Director of Social Work has been told to investigate all options for the future provision of residential, respite and day care services for older people in Fife in the longer term and to report back to Social Work and Health Committee actions to replace the provision of services provided by the Council’s care homes.
Recently, the proposal fell on its face when the council failed to identify viable interest from the private and not-for-profit sector to take over the 10 homes in Fife which the SNP-LibDem led local authority wants to offload.
Stephen Moore, executive director, social work services, said: “As we look to the future, we remain firmly focused on the present where there will be no change for those who live in the Council’s Care Homes or for those who use the services. Considering all viable opportunities will take time as we consider the options home by home.
“We will be writing to service users, their family and staff to inform them of the decision taken by Members and regular updates on progress will be starting through the Care Home Replacement newsletter.”
As the future of care homes is considered, Fife Council has allocated £3m from the Capital Programme budget between 2011 and 2014 to ensure the buildings are maintained to the standards required to ensure safe levels of care.
Glenrothes campaigner, Ian Sloan, told the Gazette: “It is indeed good news that Fife Council has confirmed that it will be “business as usual” for the Council-run Care Homes. This is what the campaign to save the Care Homes has been requesting all along. We re-affirm our wish to have a range of choices available to the Council Tax payers of Fife. Many people will indeed seek a service from the private sector and that is their right. It is also our right to expect our relatives and indeed ourselves in years to come, to have the ability to be cared for in a Care Home which is provided, managed and staffed by well trained, motivated and properly rewarded Council staff. The current Council policy will eventually deny us that right.”
Mr Sloan said: “It is also interesting to note that the Lib Dem Chair of Social Work has announced that £3m will be budgeted for the proper upkeep of our Care Homes over the next three years. Yes indeed, because the private sector did not rush forward to build replacement Care Homes, this expenditure is both essential and expected.
“However, it does not reflect the fact that £40 million was already set aside for the ongoing replacement programme for the Council’s own Care Homes. The SNP and Lib Dems controlling Fife Council diverted this budget away from the frail elderly residents of Fife without any proper explanation of where it went – so where is the missing £37 million?”
Mr Sloan said the ‘Save our Care Homes’ campaign will continue.
He said: “We still have no final definite outcome to the policy of the current administration to withdraw the Council-run Care Home service from the voters of Fife.”