Falkirk staff worried ahead of care home changes

The Summerford House care home is one scheduled for closure.
The Summerford House care home is one scheduled for closure.

Care home staff are anxious about their future ahead of changes to where and how services for old people are delivered.

As part of a fresh approach to adult health and social care provision, Falkirk Council intends to close two residential homes and replace them with one new-build.

But the SNP claims the impact of the plan has left many employees worried about their job prospects.

A report to the council’s executive on the findings of a joint inspection of the service carried out by Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland produced a nine-point action plan to take things forward.

Councillor David Alexander called for it to be continued until the next meeting of the executive because questions about staffing have still to be answered.

Chief executive Mary Pitcaithly gave assurances any possible impact on staff as a result of closing the residential care home at Summerford House in Falkirk and then Oakbank in Polmont after a new facility opens will be “explained in detail” ahead of the closures.

But Mr Alexander claimed: “Staff are extremely concerned now. When Summerford House closes only some senior staff will transfer to Oakbank with the residents. Others with over 20 years service who will not be part of that move are telling us they are not getting the opportunity to relocate to other care homes operated by the council ahead of the changes because it is not encouraging ‘like for like’ transfers.

“Apparently they can apply, but there are no guarantees they will get the move they are looking for, so they are wondering if they should even bother.

“Instead, vacancies are being advertised externally through the usual agencies for new starts who will not be on the same pay scale as the more experienced people already in post elsewhere.

“It’s a concern experienced care home workers are worried about their future and the SNP felt that should be addressed before this report was approved.

“As far as we are concerned it does not make any sense not to look after the our most experienced people and give then the opportunity to relocate if they want to.

“At the end of this process the council could be creating huge problems for itself. When it comes to redundancy packages, experienced staff are the ones it is most expensive to get rid of.”

The report itself said that around 240 staff had been asked their views and agreed they are “generally well motivated and supported” by their managers.

Ahead of the executive agreeing the report, Councillor Linda Gow said: “This is a snap-shot in time taken at a very early stage of the joint working programme and things have moved on since then.”