Future of care homes in town is ‘uncertain’

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GLENROTHES care homes are “in a kind of limbo” one year after plans were first revealed to take them out of council control, reports MIKE DELANEY.

And residents, their families and staff are living with uncertainty over what the future may bring, it has been claimed.

Last February, Fife Council unveiled proposals to invite private, or not-for-profit providers to build and run new homes to replace the 10 local authority-run facilities in the region, including those at South Parks House and Alan McLure House in Glenrothes.

The proposals proved hugely controversial and led to a Save Our Care Homes group being set-up by opponents of the policy.

Their concern about alleged privatisation was compounded when one of the country’s largest care home providers, Southern Cross, hit serious cash problems last year.

Last autumn, the council revealed that no suitable bidders for the homes replacement programme had emerged and councillors remitted the matter back to officials to consider the way forward.

Ian Sloan, whose mother lives in Alan McLure House in Woodside, is a spokesman for the SOCH group in Glenrothes and has also been selected as a candidate for Labour in the area at this May’s council elections.

He said: “From our point of view we are, in one way, quite happy about the current situation because the homes are still under council control and it’s business as usual as far as residents, their relatives and staff are concerned.

“On the other hand, there is still a lot of uncertainty about what the future will hold and staff, for example, don’t know what the situation will be in a year’s time say - will they still be working for the council, or could they be made redundant, will a private provider have taken one of more of the homes over and will they get jobs with them and, if so, on what terms and conditions.

“Our own preference would be for the uncertainty to be ended and for the council to announce that the homes will remain under their control, but at the moment they are in a kind of limbo.”

Jim Parker, a Glenrothes man active in the Scottish Pensioners Party has, since last May’s national elections, been working on the idea of workers’ co-ops taking over the homes, but he claims he has had difficulty assessing the viability of such a move because he hasn’t had an adequate chance to put his case to staff.

The council did arrange three meetings – including one at the Lomond Centre in Glenrothes last month - but Mr Parker dismissed these as “a complete waste of time” because they were held when staff were at work.

But the council’s head of older people’s services, Rona Laing, has said that it would be “inappropriate” to allow Mr Parker to talk to staff in the homes as he wants to do.

On the current situation on the homes, she added: “The current care home replacement programme will now enter into a new phase to begin looking at all options to replace current services. The replacement of services will take several years and it will remain business as usual for our residents and service users whose welfare is paramount.”