Relatives and carers of elderly people attending the St David’s Resource Centre in St Andrews have reacted with concern after being notified that the Centre is the subject of an Asset Transfer Request from a community group providing a cafe and social activities. The Centre available for this kind of application since Fife’s Integration Joint Board for Health & Social Care decided to dispose of St David’s because of the need to make efficiency savings.
St David’s provides day care elderly people who have complex care needs with essential services which help maintain them in the community, rather than enter residential of nursing home care. The facility provides support for up to 10 people per day but the exact numbers and individuals vary according to holidays and respite care.
Alternative facilities for the users of the St David’s facility has yet to be identified, and this is causing major upset to the users of these services and uncertainty for the skilled staff who work there. Initial reports that one of the alternatives being considered is the Victory Memorial Hall increased the concern, as this one-hundred year old community hall considered by many to be unfit for the purpose and cannot replicate the facilities of the much more modern St David’s building located in Albany Park. Replacing a modern airy and spacious day care centre well adapted for the users with a hall which cannot start to provide the same level of facilities is felt to be unacceptable in an age where all other key services are improving care and accommodation standards.
While the Council has said that no decision has been made about relocating the St David’s Day Care Services, the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership was granted £5000 from the St Andrews Common Good Fund at the May meeting of the NE Fife Area Committee to facilitate day-care provision at the Victory Memorial Hall – which was said to be one of the options being considered as an alternative for the services provided at St David’s.
Carers have reacted to this news with alarm as services provided from this building would represent a unacceptable deterioration in care of some of St Andrews most vulnerable residents. The fact that funding has been applied to facilitate day care services at the Victory Memorial Hall would, they say, indicate that it is more than just an option.
One carer commented that while the voluntary organisation bidding for St David’s was no doubt serving a worthy social purpose, it should not have priority over service providing essential care for some of St Andrews most vulnerable citizens. Another suggested that St Andrews, which advertises itself as a “Dementia Friendly” town, would not live up to its name if it treated its ageing population with such little respect. Both asserted that no changes in the service should take place until an alternative to St David’s, which provided the same or better facilities, had been secured and a proper consultation has taken place without the pressure of the Asset Transfer request hanging over it. St David’s, they consider, should be withdrawn from the disposal list until a suitable alternative had been found.
At its June meeting, the NE Fife Area Committee was assured by council officers that St Davids would not be closed until a suitable alternative had been found by the Integration Joint Board for Health & Social Care. Councillor Brian Thomson has asked for detailed feedback about proposals. Commenting on the issue, Councillor Jane Ann Liston said “I will be keeping a close eye upon the situation, as the day centre service is clearly required in St Andrews”.
David Middleton, Chair of the Confederation of St Andrews Residents’ Association, commented “For over three decades, Scandinavian practice has been to encourage the public to use restaurant/cafe facilities in residential Homes and day care services, as a way of breaking down isolation. Incorporating the Hub Cafe in the St David’s premises would provide similar benefits. But management of the building should be retained by the Council”.
“I consider that there are more than sufficient grounds identified above, for the Asset Transfer Request to be refused. However, retaining the building and accommodating the Hub Community Cafe there, if space allows, together with other elements of the Health and Social Care Services as appropriate, would make full beneficial use of the building and and provide more than adequate reasons for reversing the decision to dispose of it”.
Note: Fife Health and Social Care Partnership Contact is Louise.Bell@fife.gov.uk Telephone 03451 555555 ext 443876