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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

'There were many tears’ — elderly residents told Belmont Castle care home in Meigle will close

Written by The Courier

Elderly residents of a Perthshire care home broke down in tears yesterday when they learned of its impending closure. Staff and residents at Belmont Castle in Meigle were given the devastating news that the facility was no longer sustainable.

After concerted efforts to boost dwindling client numbers failed, CrossReach – the care subsidiary of the Church of Scotland – can no longer afford to keep the home open.

Around 16 elderly residents have now been forced to seek accommodation elsewhere, while 21 members of staff will have to find new jobs.

Their families have described the shock closure announcement as a devastating situation for the residents and a hammer blow to dedicated and caring Belmont Castle staff.

Convener of the social care council of the Church of Scotland, the Rev Syd Graham, said he “deeply regretted” having to make the announcement to those at the home.

“The decision to close Belmont Castle was not one made easily,” he said. “Belmont Castle falls far short of the necessary occupancy figures and has done for a considerable period.

“CrossReach have tried many different ways to deal with the continuing low occupancy, and hence loss of income, at Belmont Castle, such as an extensive advertising campaign in the national press, entering into talks with the NHS and three local authorities. Regretfully, there is no hope of improved use in the future.”

Mr Graham assured those close to the home that they had “exhausted every avenue” and said he “wished another option was possible”.

He continued: “Our priority and concern now is to do everything that we can with our partners in local government and the sector to find the most caring local environments we can.

“I would like to acknowledge and pay tribute to the 21 existing staff and relief staff and past staff at Belmont Castle. They could not have provided more loving, effective care over 80 glorious years of service in this community.

“They consistently achieved high grades from the Care Inspectorate for their quality of service, but the isolation of the property clearly inhibited admissions.”

A spokesman from Perth and Kinross Council confirmed that staff from its social work team were working closely with residents, relatives and care home staff to ensure they are “fully supported” in their move to alternative accommodation.

One relative, whose family member in their nineties has enjoyed several happy years at the home, said: “This is such a devastating situation for elderly residents, many who have been there for eight to 12 years and now face having to find new accommodation.

“For many people and their families, going into care is a very difficult and traumatic situation and these elderly people will now have to go through the process of settling into a new home.

“Belmont is a spacious, beautiful area with lovely grounds and it is just so devastating that they are going to be closing it, with no indication of what will happen to the building.

“There have been rumours in the past about the situation, but residents were told nothing officially and there were many tears when this announcement was made.”

The relative added: “The home has the most dedicated staff – they are absolutely amazing – and for the manager and her assistant nothing is too much trouble.

“It is just devastating that this decision has been taken and relatives are going to have to sort this out in such a short time, and I wonder if it may just mean that some of the residents will go downhill because of the upset this will cause.”