The Scottish Government is aware of plans to modernise South Lanarkshire Council residential care facilities, in keeping with the integration joint board’s strategic commissioning plan to deliver a more flexible care model for older people.
We have not had any direct discussions about the configuration of services, as those are matters for local determination. An integration meeting between Scottish Government officials and representatives from the integration authority, the national health service board and the council will take place on 23 May.
South Lanarkshire Council’s care homes have an excellent reputation and are valued by residents and their families.
The cabinet secretary mentioned modernisation, but the council is looking to close care homes, and 100 long-term beds could be lost across South Lanarkshire if the proposals are implemented in full. Does she agree that local communities are right to be concerned, given the projected 25 per cent increase in the over-75 population in our area in the 10 years to 2026?
I appreciate that this is a local decision, but will the cabinet secretary advise what national guidance is available to councils that are looking to close care homes?
My understanding is that the current model of delivery has remained static for more than 20 years. I think that anyone would understand that the current model is no longer fit for purpose, given significant changes not only in demographics and demand, but in where people want to receive care and in the complexity of people’s needs. In addition, four of South Lanarkshire Council’s eight care homes are ageing.
I understand that the council is developing an innovative flexible care model. In 2016, it undertook a pilot test of change with existing care facilities, through the provision of 22 intermediate/transitional beds and an increased focus on enabling people to return home.
Of the people who were supported, 56 per cent successfully returned home, which supports the proposition.
I will be interested to see how South Lanarkshire Council wants to remodel and reconfigure the balance of care to respond to what we know are people’s preferences to receive care at home, if that is possible, or in a homely setting, and to use intermediate care beds and enabling services effectively.
That is why the purpose of the meeting with my officials later in May is, first, to consider the shape of the remodelling and the level of consultation, which I understand has been significant to date, and secondly, to understand the phased proposition from the IJB, so that we can be sure that it is addressing what it can evidence by way of local need and demand.
I am encouraged to hear that that meeting will take place.
The move to get people out of care homes and back into the community, or to have them stay in their own homes, started in South Lanarkshire under a Labour council, when Monica Lennon and I were councillors. Does the cabinet secretary therefore agree that this smacks of hypocrisy from the Labour Party?
It is not for me to comment on that. Members will draw their own conclusions.
Mr Simpson is right in that aspects of our developing thinking on integration and people’s need and desire to receive care in their home or a homely setting are founded, in some measure, on innovations that South Lanarkshire Council introduced and their impact. We are, of course, grateful to the council in that regard.
The whole point about health and social care partnerships and integration joint boards is that they can take account of the needs of their local population and plan and commission the redesign of services to meet those needs. Given that, I would not want diktats from central Government to interfere with those important local decisions, albeit that we must ensure that they are properly consulted on, and that the care on offer is safe, effective and person centred.