Bield protest heads to Holyrood with a petition

Bonnybridge care home resident Christina Wilson with family, protesters and councillors against the decision to close the 12 Bield care homes.
Bonnybridge care home resident Christina Wilson with family, protesters and councillors against the decision to close the 12 Bield care homes.

Today is D-Day for a band of Bonnybridge residents determined to do everything possible to stop controversial care home closures going ahead.

Local woman Laura Owens organised a petition demanding an end to plans to axe 12 Bield care homes across the country, in a move that would mean more than 160 elderly residents losing their homes.

It has collected more than 9,000 signatures, and this morning the Bonnybridge protesters boarded a bus for Edinburgh, where they plan to hand a petition addressed to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Bield has said it can no longer afford to run its business as it has in the past, and launched a five-year bid to repoint its whole operation.

It has also promised to consult with residents and their families in hopes of finding the best solution to the dilemma the elderly people concerned are now facing.

The closure threats come amid financial pressures caused by cuts to councils’ social care budgets.

But Laura and the other opponents of the plan are pinning their hopes on a key Holyrood committee meeting which they hope will force a U-turn.

Her own personal interest is her 87-year-old gran, who lives at the Bonnybridge home, and who is naturally deeply worried about what the future has in store.

But equally she wants to see what she regards as justice for all of those involved.

Laura will be with members of 15 other families affected by the decision, and they will also be accompanying her at the Health and Sport Committee where MSPs will be discussing the sustainability of care homes in Scotland.

Laura said: “The thought of my gran and others having to find new accommodation and to go through another long settling in period doesn’t bear thinking about.

“The impact on my gran’s and the other residents’ mental health would be catastrophic.

“She has said that ‘having to start over again is terrifying.

“She feels the situation to be ‘just hopeless’.

“Other residents have said that they feel ‘completely forgotten about’ and are ‘fearful of what their future holds’”.

She added: “For a person living with dementia, having familiarity of surroundings and trusted faces contributes to them feeling safe and secure.

“How sad that for so many of Bield’s residents all that they know is about to be taken away from them.

“I feel so overwhelmed that more than 9,000 have signed my petition.

“I was just expecting it to be a local thing, and I was excited when I got to 100, but it just continued to grow and grow.

“This issue has clearly struck a chord with people and we implore the Scottish Government to take action against these closures to spare these residents further distress.”