Peebles hears of plans for care of elderly

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PLANS for health and social care developments in Peebles have been aired at a meeting in the town.

Elaine Torrance, head of social care and health with Scottish Borders Council (SBC) outlined progress made by the council and the NHS, and in particular the Dovecot Road development, day services, home care, respite and housing with care.

She explained that changes were necessary because of an estimated 93 per cent increase in over-75s by 2031, along with an 8.4 per cent reduction in the working age population and the need for efficiency savings from all public sector organisations.

Ms Torrance gave an estimated completion date of October 2012.The site will provide 37 extra care housing flats plus a communal area with 24-hour staff.

There was news of a redesign of St Ronan’s House in Innerleithen, which would be upgraded in due course to provide short breaks, assessment beds and continuing specialist dementia enhanced care.

Ms Torrance said the council was exploring respite alternatives with the aim to shift the balance of home care from council support to independent service providers.

With regard to housing with care, Ms Torrance described a proposed development of an on-site staff team working 8am to 10pm, in addition to a night support service for Riverside in Peebles and Mercer Court in Innerleithen.

Holly Irwin from NHS Borders said the proposed co-location of social work day services in Hay Lodge would result in improved care, a focused prevention agenda, an increased capacity to promote confidence and independence and greater flexibility through shared use of transport.

Ms Irwin said NHS Borders had an unsustainable bed and building dependent model of care with the highest number of hospital beds per head of population and the longest stays.

She described plans to develop Hay Lodge as a health hub which would increase “in day” hospital clinical rooms, and occupational therapy facilities. GP consulting rooms would be added, a full ward of patient beds would be retained and a space for specialist dementia day care service would be provided.

A member of the public asked what would happen to staff employed in wards one and two of Hay Lodge. Dr Ross Cameron, medical director of NHS Borders said there was a government commitment to no compulsory redundancies, at least until the election in May. Existing staff would be re-deployed, he said.

Concerns were raised about patients being released from hospital too soon. Dr Cameron explained that it had been believed that the best care was delivered in hospital but this was no longer the case. The length of stay for strokes, heart attacks and births had reduced dramatically over the last 30 years and there had to be a long-term change in service.

The timescale was discussed and Calum Campbell, chief executive of NHS Borders, said the money to make Hay Lodge into a health hub was still to be found. A suggestion from the floor to start a Tweeddale palliative care fund was discussed.

Other points discussed involved difficulty in recruiting carers because of shift patterns, and there was considerable praise for the Hay Lodge staff.

Concerns were raised about potential structural damage to nearby houses from the Dovecot Road development construction work, which has resulted in a temporary halt to the project. Nial Istephan, chief executive of Eildon Group said the situation was being investigated.

After the meeting, Ms Torrance told TheSouthern: “There was good dialogue and the questions showed that the public have a good understanding of the issues. Our aim was to give information and make sure the public had a good overview, and we have met these aims.”