CONSERVATIVE councillors ensured Hamilton-area patients will benefit from a new intermediate care facility while insisting changes across South Lanarkshire must only be decided when specific local plans are available.
The number of people aged over 85 is expected to rise by a third in just the next 10 years. With people living longer there will be ever-greater need for services to support people to stay in their communities.
South Lanarkshire Council’s Social Work Committee considered proposals for a new transitional care model on Wednesday (20 June).
Evidence shows the approach helps prevent older people being forced into residential or nursing facilities when, with the right support, they could continue living in their own home.
There was near unanimous support for a new centre at St Joseph’s in Blantyre providing such care for up to 260 Hamilton-area patients every year.
However, that new facility faced being held-up as councillors were asked to approve changes across South Lanarkshire before knowing detailed plans for Clydesdale, East Kilbride, and Rutherglen and Cambuslang.
A solution put forward by the Conservative Group was backed by independent councillors and accepted by the SNP administration.
The Tories’ amendment accepted proposals for the new Hamilton-area centre, while also allowing councillors to later decide specific measures for other areas when those plans are available.
Councillor Colin McGavigan is the Conservative Group’s acting spokesman for social work resources. He said: “We certainly support greater provision of transitional care to help people maintain their independence and continue to live safely in their own homes for as long as they want to.
“As a responsible opposition it would have been utterly wrong to stand in the way of a new facility that will deliver much-needed transitional care places for up to 260 more Hamilton area patients every year.
“Our amendment recognised there are good, fully-developed plans for the Hamilton area and prevented this new facility being held-up, but it also made clear councillors will not approve changes for Clydesdale, East Kilbride, and Rutherglen and Cambuslang without equally specific local proposals.
“We are determined to ensure the council holds the SNP administration to account and can always reject any proposals that are not right for our communities.
“I appreciate that our fellow opposition councillors in the Independent Group gave our amendment their support, and I welcome the administration’s decision to accept it.”
Transitional and intermediate care provides people with short-term places during which time they can recover from ill-health or injury and regain their confidence, allowing them to return to their own home.
It also helps reduce the chance someone will be stuck on a hospital ward for weeks or even months after they are medically fit to leave.
That occurrence – known as ‘bed blocking’ – increases the risk a person will suffer isolation and loneliness as they are forced apart from their families and friends. It also causes delays for other patients who need hospital treatment.
The new facility in Blantyre will replace the Hamilton area’s ageing Kirkton House and McWhirters House care homes, which the director of health and social care explained will not be fit for purpose.
It will include 20 en-suite rooms providing transitional and intermediate care such as rehabilitation and re-ablement. A further 20 ‘technology enabled’ homes will support adults with complex needs and older people to live independently.
Assurances were given to the committee that there would be no detriment to residential care provision within the Hamilton area and the proposals adopted ensure the area’s existing Dewar House will be maintained.
Note: Conservative Group member Cllr Richard Nelson did not vote for the Hamilton-area proposal, citing a desire to maintain McWhirters home in Larkhall as a residential care facility.