There is still hope for Park House.
At a packed and emotional meeting at the Town Hall today, Senior Manager for Services to our Community Aisling Hick said that closure can be avoided if the situation turns around in the next two or three weeks.
She had previously taken the decision to close the residential home, which was announced in a press release yesterday.
In a presentation at the start of the meeting, Aisling laid out the reasons for her earlier decision, saying that the current staffing situation and high numbers of agency staff will make care unsafe for residents and that best practice means a closure plan should be put in place before the situation deteriorates.
She said that Adult Social Care posts have been advertised 52 times in the last two years and defended the Authority against accusations that they have engineered service failure to save money.
Aisling ended her presentation by appealing to the community for ideas and help to turn the situation at Park House around.
However, some audience members were unconvinced by her explanation, saying that the Authority had been negligent in letting the situation reach crisis point.
On the subject of recruitment, audience members felt strongly that staff should be paid more for the work they do and are not sufficiently valued. One current carer argued that recruitment had not been helped by staff having to reapply for their jobs two years ago, with staff now feeling insecure and looking for work elsewhere.
In terms of solutions, one islands-born nurse working at Park House through a mainland agency said that she has encountered similar recruitment issues on the mainland. She said that some 12-hour shifts should be introduced at Park House, as well as a variety of enticements to attract new recruits.
Chairman of Council Amanda Martin said that an emergency Community Services meeting would be called in the next 7-10 days to discuss increasing staff pay and incentives, while Senior Officer for Adult Social Care Gareth Peters appealed to the community for help with accommodation for mainland workers.
The Council and islanders now have a window of two to three weeks to save the residential home from closure. Anyone who can help with accommodation or recruitment is asked to contact Aisling urgently on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01720 424034.