Better days look to lie ahead for a failing home for the elderly now councillors have agreed to invest £2.8m on making it not only fit for purpose once again but also a pioneer for new methods of care.
Scottish Borders Council’s soon-to-be-scrapped arm’s-length care company, SB Cares, last month called in healthcare watchdogs after it was revealed that services at Deanfield Care Home in Hawick had fallen below an acceptable standard.
Now, at a full meeting of the council today, September 26, members agreed to reallocate £2.8m previously set aside for a new residential dementia care facility to pay for improvement work at the Roadhead home.
Council chief executive Tracey Logan told the chamber: “Following concerns raised with myself, along with the council, I decided to undertake an inspection myself, and took with me a range of teams to try and understand what we could do to try and improve the fabric of Deanfield.
“It was disappointing to find Deanfield was pretty tired and in need of some real refurbishment.
“I didn’t find anything that caused me any concerns around health and safety or risk to individual clients. What I did find was a very old care home which really needed some care and attention and some investment.
“To make it clear, that investment would not total up to the sum of £2.8m if all we were going to do was refurbish an existing care home and make it look better and feel a bit better. That would not take £2.8m.”
Deanfield, opened in 1987, is currently a 35-bed traditional care home, but it will now be remodelled into five domestic-style homes, creating what is described as a care village.
Common areas of the care home, such as the day centre area, will be redeveloped into community spaces to be used for activities and group events, and an outdoor seating area will lead off from there.
Parts of the care home could be turned into small streetscapes to remind dementia sufferers how they used to live in their own homes.
Ms Logan went on to say that such an approach, providing specialist dementia care in a homely setting, has been successfully pioneered in the Netherlands.
She continued: “We are constantly trying to see if we are providing the best possible care for people in the Borders.
“Part of that is to look at other models of care.
“What we’ve been doing in recent months is exploring a variety of different models, one of which we saw in the Netherlands.
“The model we’ve been looking at is largely associated with people living with advanced dementia and how they can be cared for in a community setting, very different to what we find in our own care homes.
“It’s largely based on providing a very homely kind of environment.
“You find that the whole village, if you like, is built around six houses, and if you go into one of these houses, you feel like you are just in someone’s front room.
“You are in a normal home, with a normal dining area.
“The staff don’t wear uniforms, and it is very very warm and comforting and is exactly how you would want to find your own home.
“We’re looking to use Deanfield as a pilot test of this model, and that is why we’re asking members to support a large investment to change the whole nature of the care provided in Deanfield.”
Kelso councillor Tom Weatherston said: “This is a great news story for the entire council, irrespective of what side of the bench you sit on.
“For those of us lucky enough to visit Holland, we did learn, and since then that world-class model is being copied all around the world.
“I would encourage everyone to go online and look at this village model and look at what they do and how it works.
“This is the start of a journey that will take us several years into the future.
“We could be a lead on this, and other people will look at the Borders and say ‘that’s fantastic. They were the first to do this’.
“I welcome this. I’m really glad that Hawick is getting this, but it’s really a facility for the whole of the Borders.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer added: “There is a truism that out of the bad comes the good, and that’s the case here at Deanfield.
“It’s very unfortunate what happened, but what we’re seeing is the embryo of something that can affect the whole of the Borders.
“I totally agree that this innovative, different approach is exactly what is required and, of course, there couldn’t be a better place to have a warm, inviting and open environment than in Hawick.
“Most importantly, and why I’m so in favour of this, is that this is about providing the highest possible level of care for the most vulnerable in our society.”