Council chief defends care homes decision

Cllr Peter Grant, SNP Leader of the Administration at Fife Council
Cllr Peter Grant, SNP Leader of the Administration at Fife Council
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A COMMUNITY trust or not-for-profit providers could be part of the solution to the care homes ‘problem’, the council leader has said, reports MIKE DELANEY.

And the local authority is prepared to be “imaginative” over how to move the facilities out of its control.

But, Peter Grant admitted it had been a “disappointment” that the council had not been able to find a taker for the homes, including two in Glenrothes.

He made his comments as he reflected on his time in office since the Scottish National Party-led coalition took power five years ago, admitting the care homes issue had been one of the most contentious he had faced.

A row erupted last February when the council revealed its plan to invite bidders to build and run homes to replace facilities which were no longer considered to be “fit for purpose.”

Opponents of the move wanted homes like Alan McLure and South Parks houses kept in council control, because they feared what ‘privatised’ care might mean for residents, concern that intensified in the wake of high profile problems suffered by companies like Southern Cross.

In the event, the council has been unable to find suitable bidders and officials are working on a plan ‘B’.

Despite the setback, Mr Grant defended the policy.

He said: “Existing provision of care homes is not sustainable and, at some point, they are going to need a level of investment that will be difficult to find.”

He remained convinced that it did not matter who owned the homes, only the quality of care provided in them, suggesting that if residents could be offered a new home similar to that provided by one facility at Preston Roundabout, for example, they would be more than happy to move.

And Mr Grant insisted that the council had tried to handle the situation as sensitively as possible, ruling out some quite drastic solutions which were available.

He explained: “There are enough spaces in private homes in Fife for us to empty all of our homes immediately, but all the indications we had was the impact of that kind of way of implementing it would be a risk to the health and wellbeing (of residents) that I wasn’t prepared to take on at the time and I would be extremely reluctant to do it in the future and that is essentially why we are still looking for an answer.

“It’s possibly the single biggest thing that we don’t have a resolution to yet. It’s disappointing, but at the same time we are still providing a high quality of care for people who need it. We are having to look again and be imaginative and it may well be that some kind of not for profit or community trust is a model that has got some sort of future in it.”