Forum’s fear over lack of care beds

THE Bute Forum for Older Voices has written to health secretary Nicola Sturgeon to express concern at the lack of residential care beds on the island.

Forum chair Janet Skillin and secretary Jeanette McIntyre say more facilities need to be in place to prevent Bute residents who require 24-hour care having to be moved off the island, away from family and friends.

While their letter does not specifically mention the current planning application for a residential care home in Ascog, it does express the hope that the possibility of providing a care home with nursing provision on the island will be “properly explored”.

The Forum’s letter, which has also been copied to Alan Reid MP, Michael Russell MSP and Julie McIlroy from the Scottish Government’s health and social care integration team directorate, states: “While we welcome the introduction of special care housing in the housing complexes, plus the introduction of overnight care and extra staffing for the community care team, we feel more needs to be in place for those who require 24-hour constant care.

“Our older people should not need to be moved off the island and away from family and friends at this vulnerable time.

“Many of their partners and siblings are themselves often physically unable to go on long journeys and distressed by the need to use our inadequate transport system to visit. Not everyone has access to private transport.

“There are only a finite number of beds in the revamped Victoria Hospital. We hope that the possibility of providing a care home with nursing provision will be properly explored, thus allowing some comfort to those who are at the end of their life and to their families.

“Please consider that many of our older people were born and lived all their lives on the island, and should be afforded the dignity and peace of mind that they can be cared for here and not some distant place they do not know.”

Michael Russell said: “I am strongly in support of actions that will ensure that elderly people from Bute who need care get it on the island.

“I made that clear at the hustings during the election when it was raised and I will be happy to continue to argue for that with the council and with other bodies.”

Asked for his view on the Ascog care home application, Mr Russell added: “I don’t normally take positions on individual planning applications, but in general I would support an increase in the number of places available on Bute, to meet present and future demand, which, given we have an ageing population in Scotland and in Argyll & Bute, will rise.”