The company which operates Millfield Care Home in Jedburgh has announced that the facility, which provides residential care for up to 23 elderly people, will close by next year.
While Scottish Borders Council has reassured residents that their continuity of care is “receiving our highest priority”, it is a very uncertain time for them, as well as the care home’s 28 staff.
Edinburgh-based operator Bield revealed the upcoming closure of all its care homes in Scotland this week, stating it was to consolidate its services to ensure the long-term future of the company.
The statement went on: “As a result of this new strategy, we have made the very difficult decision to withdraw from the residential care home market.
“This is a fundamental step and one which we do not take lightly, but it is in the best interests of the long-term future and sustainability of our organisation.”
Bield also runs retirement homes in Melrose, Selkirk and Greenlaw, which The Southern believes will not be affected by this reshuffle, however, 11 other care homes across Scotland will close over the next 12-18 months, affecting 160 elderly people.
A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council said: “It was with regret that we received notification from Bield Housing Association that they had taken the decision nationally to withdraw from providing residential care. Here in the Borders, this will impact on residents of Millfield Care Home in Jedburgh.
“We would like to reassure residents and their families that ensuring their continuity of care is receiving our highest priority and we have been working closely with Bield to make sure that the future needs of everyone living in the care home continue to be met.
“We are in close dialogue with them and are supportive of their efforts to find an alternative provider if at all possible for this high quality and popular home.
“However, contingency plans will be put in place should this not be possible.
“This includes making preparations to reassess the needs of each resident and discuss with them and their families the options available to them in terms of potential relocation to alternative accommodation.
“We appreciate that this is an extremely unsettling time for everyone concerned and intend meeting with residents and their families as a matter of priority to provide them with as much information and reassurance as we can.”
John Gallacher, Scottish organiser of the Unison union – the largest union representing staff at Bield – has called for the first minister to step in.
He said: “Nicola Sturgeon must intervene and ask how Bield Housing’s management team got themselves into this position.
“This is a disaster for families across Scotland and it questions the role of government, integrated joint boards, NHS and local authorities.
“The task of making alternative arrangements will fall back on public authorities, the tax payer and individual families at a few months’ notice.
“This is at a time when demand for care services can only increase. As a charity, using public funds, Bield Housing must be held accountable.
“First we need to protect the elderly residents and staff affected by this decision. Unison will be doing everything we can to ensure that happens.
“We need urgent action by Scottish Government, COSLA and other agencies to save vital services and jobs.
“In the long term we need to accept that such crucial services cannot be left to the market. We need to question whether the sector can deliver in the face of increasing demand and how local authorities, who have lost over 30,000 jobs and taken the brunt of austerity cuts, can possibly cope over the long term.
“Putting so many families at risk, goes to the heart of what kind of society Scotland is.”