SOCIAL CARE IN CRISIS: Nearly one in five care homes close (updated)

Crosslet House, Dalreoch House, Willox Park Home, and Townend ‘Poorhouse’ Hospital.

By Bill Heaney

The Scottish Government have been urged to scrap their plans for centralising social care by Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP. 

And to invest in staff and services instead after new figures reveal that there has been a 19 per cent drop in the number of care homes for adults over the last decade.  

Scottish Labour has also sounded the alarm over the perilous state of care homes as a new report shows the number of care homes plummeting by a fifth.

Over the last ten years the number of care homes fell from 1,282 to 1,037 – a staggering drop of 19 per cent.

In the same period, 2,253 care home places were lost as the number of registered places fell by five per cent.

Care providers have previously warned that the situation could get worse still due to rising bills and staffing pressures.

Social care services across the board are under pressure and the SNP’s flagship social care policy of setting up a National Care Service has been plagued by problems, with the government being forced to u-turn on plans to seize powers from local government.

Scottish Labour Health and Social Care spokesperson Jackie Baillie, left,  said “Social care in Scotland is at breaking point but the SNP has no real plan to fix it.

“This collapse in care homes will deprive people of the local care they need and pile pressure on the rest of the social care system and the NHS.

“The sector have been sounding the alarm for years, warning that homes will continue to close if the Scottish Government fails to act.

“We need a National Care Service that is truly fit for purpose and is equipped for the challenges of an ageing population.

“The SNP must act now to prevent disaster and support care homes, workers and residents.”

In Dumbarton, for example, Dalreoch House and Willox Park are just two of the local authority community care homes to have closed.

They were replaced by Crosslet House, a large difficult and expensive to reach institution on the outskirts of the town in the foothills of the Long Crags in Overtoun Estate. It accommodates around 70 residents.

The reason given for the closures by the SNP council t the time was economies of scale, although the professional advice was to keep small community homes within the community in order that old people would not feel isolated.

Langcraigs Home in Townend Road, Dumbarton, was then sold off to the private sector by the former SNP administration at a knockdown price to new operators who secured the property in the grounds of the old Poorhouse for £250,000 less than the market price.

Public Health Scotland’s Care Home Census for Adults in Scotland, published today, reveals that between 31st March 2013 and 31st March 2023, there was a 19% drop in the number of care homes for adults.

The number of registered places has fallen by 5% and the number of residents cared for by the voluntary or not for profit sector has fallen by 33%.

Earlier this morning, the Chief Executive of Scottish Care, Dr Donald Macaskill, pictured right, told BBC Radio Scotland that there are care homes, particularly in more rural and remote areas, which are, “having to close at a rate that we have never experienced before.”

He claimed that the Scottish Government, “simply isn’t caring about social care.”

Dr Macaskill added: “What we are finding, increasingly, is, particularly rural and remote and small care homes, and charitable run care homes, in particular, are having to close at a rate that we have never experienced before …

“We need to start valuing our frontline staff and we need to start caring about care, and this administration, to be quite frank, simply isn’t caring about social care.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton, left, said:  “The crisis in social care isn’t going away.

“Those who know the sector best understand that as more homes shut their doors, more people struggle to access care close to home.

“The government are bereft of solutions. Instead, SNP ministers are charging ahead with an ill-fated power grab that will utterly fail to address key problems. Their plans should be scrapped, not salvaged.

“Rather than wasting billions of pounds on a futile and centralising bureaucracy, Scottish Liberal Democrats want to see that money spent on delivering care services close to home, driving up the quality of care and rewarding staff with better pay, conditions and career progression.”

West Dunbartonshire Council refused to comment.  You can find the full Care Home Census here  

Top of page picture: Langcraigs Home in Dumbarton which was shut down and sold off at a knockdown price by West Dunbartonshire Council.

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