Final decision demanded on Lochaber care home

A LOCHABER councillor is demanding a decision on the future of a Lochaber care home which he says has become a “political football”.

Councillor Donald Cameron says Invernevis House at Fort William has been kicked in every direction over four years of indecision by Highland Council colleagues.

He said: “It was to close and care was to be provided wholly by the private sector, then in 2007 it was saved and it was to be replaced by a new-build home.

“Then in a further cruel twist the council went back on its promise and cancelled their plan. Since then the dithering has continued and the emotions of the residents and staff have been played with for long enough.”

Councillor Cameron added: “Despite the economic situation there is money to give Invernevis House a future, and in light of the troubles in the private sector the council must make an announcement at the earliest opportunity to either build a new home or refurbish the present care home.”

He says he is hopeful of hearing “positive news” at the January meeting of the council’s housing and social work committee in Inverness, if not sooner.

He says the need to provide replacement facilities for Invernevis House has been highlighted by the financial difficulties besetting some private-sector care providers because of falling occupancy rates, rising rents and high fixed price costs for its staff and facilities.

Councillor Cameron, who represents Fort William and Ardnamurchan, said: “The precarious state of the private sector which provides residential care for the elderly is a cause of grave concern and highlights the need to ensure that we provide local authority beds in Lochaber by either refurbishing Invernevis House or building a replacement care home.”

He added: “The private sector provides 90% of residential care for the elderly and in general looks after elderly people in a satisfactory manner. We will always rely on care providers in the private sector but their vulnerability highlights the need for a nucleus of local authority care beds in our own areas of the Highlands.”

The Invernevis Action Group has also condemned the delays in making a decision on the future of the facility. While the fate of four of the five Highland Council-run care homes which had been under review has been decided a decision on Invernevis House is still awaited.

Action group secretary Liz Campbell said: “The indecision on the part of the council is causing anxiety among the residents and low staff morale.

She added: “We ask the council to put us out of our misery and give their decision, hopefully at the very least renovating Invernevis House and keeping our care in council hands.”