The decision to close the Thomson Court day centre has been made, and will not be reversed.
That was the message given at Bute and Cowal Area Committee’s meeting in Eaglesham House on Tuesday morning in Rothesay.
As we recently reported, the Integrated Joint Board of Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership has proposed to close Thomson Court’s day centre dementia service , offering instead an in-home ‘befrienders-style’ alternative.
The meeting - which was attended by members of the public with links to both Thomson Court and Dunoon’s Struan Lodge which is facing closure - heard from Allen Stevenson, Head of Adult Services with Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership.
Mr Stevenson said: “I accept that there are challenges. The challenge for us is how do we meet demand going forward, and I believe the proposal for the service specification will give us an opportunity to build a model which will take us forward.
“I want to be really clear - this decision was made by the IJB [Integrated Joint Board]. The work of the locality group is to look at that and come up with a plan.
“I don’t want anyone to have the impression I can question it. It’s for me to take it forward, the decision has been made.”
Councillor Isobel Strong said: “The IJB, I don’t think, has taken enough time to consider this.
“I know there’s a consultation process, but the consultation has assumed the end result, which is that a befriender service will be put in its place.”
Members of the public were also vocal about their anger over the lack of consultation prior to the decision being taken.
Max Barr from the Struan Lodge Development Group said: “I’m very conscious that Allen has made it clear that they’ve already made a decision which has been approved. If we can come up, in discussions, with some better ideas, is there any scope for the proposals to be reversed?”
Mr Stevenson answered: “It would be unfair of me to give any impression other than that the proposal has been signed off.
“I’m not prepared to make any promises I can’t keep.
“I’m committed to help Max and others to get involved in what that service will entail.”
Mr Barr replied: “Well what’s the point if the decision’s already been made?”
Bute Community councillor Jean Moffat said: “We’ve all been brought here under false pretences. We thought what we have to say could make a difference.
“I feel we’ve been brought here to design our own guillotine.”
Linda Mellor asked: “Could you tell me who are the befrienders, where do they come from, and are they trained to deal with dementia cases?”
Mr Stevenson said: “The service specification needs to be developed to then employ suitable staff.
“We know there will be interest in this work, but the detail of that is not specifically dementia care - it’ll be for a wide range of service users.”
Members of Bute and Cowal Area Committee agreed to a motion proposed by Councillor Michael Breslin, seconded by Councillor Dick Walsh, to request that the IJB progresses discussions “between NHS Highland, Argyll and Bute Council, the Health and Social Care Partnership, and Scottish Government, for the purpose of considering putting in place transitional arrangements with funding for the Argyll and Bute HSCP”.