Save Our Bield group to stage ‘urgent’ meeting over care home closures

Bonnybridge care home resident Christina Wilson (at rear of group) with family and supporters - including local councillors against decision to close her Thornton Gardens home.
Bonnybridge care home resident Christina Wilson (at rear of group) with family and supporters - including local councillors against decision to close her Thornton Gardens home.

A national campaign launched in Bonnybridge has urged the Scottish Government to “stop burying its head in the sand” over care home closures.

Local woman Laura Owens made the call following a Holyrood health committee meeting where members declined to intervene directly in plans by care home operator Bield to close 12 homes across Scotland.

An “urgent” meeting is now to be staged in Glasgow on Saturday next week.

With the help of online campaigns group 38 Degrees Ms Owens had launched a petition which gained 9,000 signatures, but the committee agreed only to set up an independent commission to probe the facts behind the meltdown of Bield’s care operation.

What started as a purely local concern went national late last year, and angry and concerned relatives and supporters from across Scotland are now behind the campaign to force a rethink.

Ms Owens said: “We’re calling an urgent public meeting on Saturday coming (January 13) to discuss the concerns around the future of social care for the elderly in Scotland.

“It will be staged at the Glasgow premises of the union UNISON in West Campbell Street, from 12.30pm, and speakers will include Honorary Professor of Social Work and Social Policy Iain Ferguson, UNISON Scottish Organiser John Gallacher - and Laura.”

She added: “We’re disappointed the Holyrood committee did not decide to intervene, but at the same time we’re not accepting that these closures are simply going to go ahead - too many lives are affected.”

Along with local and national supporters she says it is a matter of shame that care home residents are being put through the misery of uncertainty at what will happen, and that Bield’s move must be resisted by all legal means.

This is because - as Bield has also warned - other operators could also make the case that costs are making their operation of care homes unsustainable.

It is argued that if Bield are allowed to proceed with a move directly affecting around 160 people others will inevitably follow suit, sparking a national crisis in Scottish care.

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”.

Bield has said it has been making losses on its care homes for several years, and is now doing its best to prepare residents for the future after closures take place.

It has also said it is examining ways of keeping open what is reportedly said to be a small number of homes.