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Care homes closures have led to bed blocking crisis

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Front
Care homes closures have led to bed blocking crisis

THE closure of care homes in Dumfries and Galloway over the past decade is worsening the bed blocking crisis, a councillor has insisted.

Lochar member Linda Dorward, right, highlighted how 14 care facilities across the region have been shut over the past ten years.

And with several cottage hospitals also mothballed, there is a lack of provision for elderly people stuck in hospital.

Discussing the matter at a council meeting last week, health bosses admitted that bed blocking and care at home provision continues to be a “significant challenge” in Dumfries and Galloway.

The region’s health and social care teams have been scrambling around trying to create bed provision in the remaining care homes for hospital patients requiring intermediate care – people deemed fit enough to not require in-patient care, but not yet fully fit to go home, or who do not yet have a care package set up at home.

Councillor Dorward said: “Fourteen care homes have closed in Dumfries and Galloway over the past ten years, with the loss of over 200 beds.

“And you’re talking about opening up beds in care homes to address the delayed discharge challenges you have in hospital.

“That will further impact on care home spaces across Dumfries and Galloway – of which we have 200 less.

“How do you propose to match that up with the fact that we’ve not got enough beds for people using care homes in the first place?”

She described it as a “robbing Peter to pay Paul” situation.

Responding, Alison Solley, of NHS Dumfries and Galloway, said: “In terms of using beds more flexibly for intermediate care, you’re absolutely correct, it probably will reduce that long term availability of beds.

“But what it will also do is that it will allow that step up, step down for people – so people who would be in a hospital bed at the moment, but are medically fit and maybe not quite ready to go home and need that bit of extra support, will be able to use those beds.

“We’ll be able to use them quite flexibly and people will not be in those beds for a long period of time.”

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