In the last issue we heard about Cùram’s day care on Tiree, and how successful we have been so far raising the money to keep this going. But our other ‘hat’ is working behind the scenes with the various bodies to build a completely new care centre in place of the Scarinish ‘Home’ at Taigh an Rubha.
Cùram Thiriodh was set up after a big public meeting early in 2011, following an unsuccessful attempt to privatise care services for the elderly on Tiree. There were two things we learned early on: no one is building old peoples’ homes any more, apart from huge private ones in cities; and, looking at other islands, the process takes a long time. The care centres on Jura and Mull both took about ten years to plan and build. A similar £10 million project on Barra has taken even longer.
The modern replacement for ‘old peoples’ homes’ is the ‘Progressive Care Centre’, like those on Jura and Mull. These are built by Housing Associations, and are basically a number of flats connected to rooms for day care and community use. Each unfurnished flat is self-contained with a small kitchen/dining room and bathroom as well as the bedroom. The residents become tenants of the Housing Association, and every resident has their own individual social work ‘care package’. But as well as a new building, there are other changes in the offing on Tiree. The nursing and the social work teams on the island are about to be brought together under a national initiative to end decades of wrangling over budgets. The artificial distinction between those carers who work in the community, and those who work in Taigh an Rubha is likely to be phased out. And, most importantly, the new ‘Progressive Care Centres’ work in a different way to the old ‘Homes’. The staff will no longer be employed in ‘The Home’, but as part of a team of carers looking after individual clients, whose needs vary from day to day.
We don’t know how this is going to work on Tiree, but Cùram has made the case strongly to the Working Group that a new building is no use if the staff is not happy. After a couple of years writing proposals to the Council, without much success, Cùram was approached by Argyll and Bute’s Housing Department to ask if we were interested in joining a group to plan a new care centre. For a year we have been part of this ‘Working Group’, along with ACHA (Argyll Community Housing Association), the Health Board, and the Council’s Social Work and Housing Departments. We meet by video conference every couple of months, and are making slow progress. So far we have agreed the following:
· Tiree and Coll do need a new care centre; the existing ‘Home’ has got to the stage where it is not worth modernising
· After analysing the number of people likely to be living on the two islands in the next twenty years, we are presently aiming to build eight new residential flats and two ‘respite’ flats, one of which will function in much the way the ‘medical’ bed does at the moment
· Dementia is on the rise. We estimate there will be twice as many people with this condition in twenty years’ time. The new centre has to be particularly designed for this and there is a world-class dementia unit at Stirling University, which has agreed to help us.
· Attached to these flats we hope to build a day care centre, where Cùram can continue and expand its work. This will include a kitchen, so that fresh meals can be made for the residents that want them, islanders coming to the day care centre and the meals-on-wheels service.
· Existing residents should not have to move out while the new centre is being built
· There will be new offices for the care staff and district nurses in the new complex
It is possible that a new ambulance station will be built next door
· The group has decided that it would not be appropriate to build a chapel of rest as part of the same development
· The two possible sites being considered for this development are:
the area around Taigh an Rubha and the Rubha Cottages; and the ground around the doctor’s house in Baugh. An architect will be employed soon to produce a report on these two options. One possibility the Working Group has discussed is integrating some of social housing next to the Home into the new centre. The Tiree Community Council has noted this and has made it clear it does not want to lose the limited social housing we have on the island.
It’s all very slow work. I suppose it has to be when there is so much at stake and there are so many different organisations involved. Our decision to start agitating for a new ‘Home’ in good time seems like a good idea!
Cùram welcomes your ideas, your contributions and your energy: we always are open to new members. Our AGM is a good place to start.
Dr John Holliday, chair of Cùram Thiriodh