The Council of the Isles of Scilly has taken the difficult but essential decision to cease providing residential care at Park House by the beginning of June 2017.
This is a result of significant recruitment issues which mean that the service is unable to ensure a minimum safe level of staffing to meet the needs of Park House residents. All residents are currently safe and well supported and this is being maintained through the use of agency carers to augment the existing workforce. Unfortunately, despite concerted recruitment efforts, the level of vacancies within the service is too high and the current staffing arrangements are not a viable medium or long term option. If we do not act now it is expected that standards within the home will begin to decline and we need to make preparations before the situation deteriorates.
We are currently preparing the closure plan which is expected to take two months. We are working closely with residents and their families to identify an appropriate alternative care arrangement to meet each person’s individual needs and requirements.
We are also supporting the current workforce at Park House who have worked tirelessly to maintain the service and who provide such good care to our service users, this led to the service receiving a ‘Good’ rating from the Care Quality Commission in October 2016. There will always be a requirement for carers on the islands.
The Council will continue to provide services to people in their own homes and we are working with staff, service users, carers and health partners to look at ways to improve those services. Though we will no longer be able to provide overnight accommodation at Park House we are looking at using the building to provide day care services, as well developing in-home sleeping and respite services. The Council is also pursuing the option of an integrated health and care facility, to include long term care beds, at the Hospital site. However this option is long term and cannot address the immediate needs of our service users. Similarly, plans for affordable housing at the Carn Thomas site will also be of benefit but only in the longer term.
Further details on these ideas and an opportunity to ask questions will be available at the St Mary’s Public Meeting on Tuesday 21 March at 4.30pm in the Town Hall and at off-island meetings during the week commencing 27 March. A list of frequently asked questions will be posted on the Council website following those meetings.
There is obviously a lot of speculation about such a significant change to service provision. We would like to assure the community that this decision is purely based on the ability of the service to provide safe care and is not financially driven. Elected members have not, unlike in many other Local Authorities, approved any cuts to the Adult Social Care budget. In fact the Adult Social Care budget for 2017/18 approved in March was increased to fully fund the operation of a residential care home. There have also been significant efforts to recruit staff but from mid-April the staffing situation will jeopardise safe care and also threatens our ability to meet the increasing demand for care for people in their own homes.