CONTROVERSIAL plans to replace Fife Council’s 10 care homes — including North Eden House in Cupar — are beginning to get under way.
Discussions are soon to take place with the private and not-for-profit sectors following the contentious Liberal Democrat/ SNP administration decision to privatise the homes in the face of the present economic crisis.
They say that budget cuts mean they simply cannot afford to bring the homes up to the standard required but have pledged that each new facility will be planned and built on an individual basis according to local needs.
This week Rona Laing, the council’s head of older people’s services, gave an assurance that keeping residents, their families and care home staff informed was a priority.
“Plans for how social work services will replace older people’s residential, day care and respite services are at the very early stages,” she said.
“We need to consider the next steps for each of our care homes in detail.
“Many meetings have been held over the last few weeks and months and as we look to the future, our newsletters will help provide clarity and understanding on the next steps for the service as we re-shape the way in which services are provided.”
Ms Laing stressed that existing services will continue to be provided within care homes until a replacement has been built and that all services currently provided in the 10 care homes will continue to be provided in the new buildings.
But she said that this will take time, as a new-build project can take between 18 months and two years to complete.
The decision to transfer the homes to the private or not-for-profit sector prompted a major political row and provoked dismay among relatives and carers, who feared their loved ones could end up being transferred to other parts of the Kingdom.
Opposition councillors and their allies, including Cupar councillor Bryan Poole, challenged the legality of the decision and unsuccessfully tabled a motion of no confidence in the chair of the social work and health committee, Councillor Tim Brett.
In north east Fife, a Save North Eden House Group was set up and a petition bearing some 4000 names handed over.
The 10 council-run homes accommodate around 300 people, with a further 2000 already living in homes run by the private or not-for-profit sector.