News release immediate release 19/11/10
Rob Gibson SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands has highlighted the role which local authority care homes play in remote and rural areas.
Speaking in a care home costs debate Mr Gibson said that whilst it seemed easy for private care homes to operate in areas of large populations the same could not be said of low population areas such as North West Sutherland. Mr Gibson also said that the modernisation of existing care homes should be made a priority of the Council.
Mr Gibson highlighted the fact that in the Highland Council area there had been a long running story as to whether existing care homes should be modernised…
"For various reasons some care homes are no longer fit for purpose. However it is worrying to see the way in which the council has gone about modernising them. It has called into question the ability of the council run care home to deal with key issues that the private sector is often unable to cope with. For example council owned care homes have been well geared to provide respite care."
Mr Gibson went onto speak about the difficulties with Duthac house care home in Tain.…
"Duthac House has section that was built in the 1980's and which has been given very nearly top marks by the care commission. If it were maintained Duthac house would be able to cope with the general run of older people during the next four or five years, which will be years of austerity."
"However, the Lib Dems-Labour-Independent led council has wasted quite a lot of money on abortive new build plans; It has spent £2 million on plans for that., rather than on maintenance. There is work to be done in the home and I wonder why money could not have been spent on looking after the existing facilities in these tough times."
"Mr Gibson questioned the disparity in costs between running a council care home to a privately run one. In 2006 the average price for a place at a Highland council run care home was £612 per week, whilst the cost came to £424 per week in the independent sector."
He also said that the disparity had grown since then and questioned why there was so much disparity in costs…
"What was going on at that time in the council owned care homes? Were the extra costs due to the provision of pensions, better training, and the higher quality of staff in those care homes compared with others?"
"In private care homes not far from Tain, there are very poor standards (in the private sector) that must be improved rapidly."
Speaking after Mr Gibson said.
"Care homes in the public sector are generally better, it is up to the council to make sure that they are a viable and positive alternative to the independent sector."