Public engagement promise over care village


THE process of creating a 'care village' in Langholm should be done through an equal partnership between the community and the organisation in charge of developing health and social care.

Lucy MacLeod hands the petition to Gary Sheehan who was representing Penny Halliday, the Integration Joint Board chairwoman
Rachel Norris
Lucy MacLeod hands the petition to Gary Sheehan who was representing Penny Halliday, the Integration Joint Board chairwoman

The chairwoman of the Integration Joint Board, Penny Halliday, said at their meeting last Thursday that they should move away from 'consultation' and towards 'co-production'.

The meeting was attended by members of the Langholm Action Project who handed over a petition of nearly 1,300 signatures and a number of surveys completed by residents.

Lucy MacLeod, who set up the project, and Denis Male, who formerly sat on the board, had earlier met Julie White, chief executive officer, and Gary Sheehan, locality manager for Annandale and Eskdale, to ask why a business plan had not been produced, as promised.

Mr Sheehan told the meeting that last year they looked at developing a 26-bed care home. Research now showed that to be financially sustainable a home needed 50 plus beds.

The number of people from Eskdale who were living in care homes elsewhere was generally about 26.

Clearly, there was no demand for a 50-bed home in Eskdale but he was optimistic about being able to provide extra- sheltered housing through a housing provider.

This provided 24-hour care for people, whose needs ranged from a little support to more intensive care.

He said: "What we want to do is extend the options for people. For those 26 residents and others who may go into residential care we want to develop an alternative option in extra-sheltered housing."

He said the capital was there through the government's Strategic Housing Investment Partnership to housing providers. One challenge was identifying a suitable site. He had looked at a number of sites and was reasonably confident of finding one.

He was optimistic there would be something in place by 2019 and building work would start next year.

He assured members that Thomas Hope Hospital would remain open until a suitable alternative was put in place. A lot of existing resources were tied up in the hospital and he wanted to invest more in community support services.

Board member Grace Cordoza said she was unhappy with the level of public engagement.

The legislation put the community directly in control whereas the reference group, which Mr Sheehan had met, comprised only three community councillors, three ward councillors and a GP.

She said: "We must get away from informing and consulting the community. Legislation says the community must be involved. It feels that decisions are being made outside this body never mind the community.

"Us making a decision here and then informing the community after the fact is not OK. People need to be involved equally in the decision-making process."

Mr Sheehan said he would organise a public meeting to update people on their plans.

Ms White said she recognised they had to do better in the next stage of the process. She wanted a genuine partnership with the community.

The chairwoman also said public engagement was important.

"I think we need to use the word 'co-production' rather than 'consultation '. A public event should be co-produced with us on an equal basis. It's crucial for me to see that."

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 11:43AM
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