ALL possible steps were taken to recruit staff for the EMI Gansey unit at Southlands Resource Centre, the Department of Social Care has told iomtoday.
But there are not enough qualified and experienced staff available to fill vacancies, it admits.
As a result of staff shortages the elderly mentally infirm unit was to close from today (Tuesday, August 28) with all eight residents having to be moved to a unit at Thie Meanagh in Farmhill, Douglas.
Last Wednesday, relatives of patients in the Gansey Unit at Southlands in Port St Mary were astounded to learn the unit would temporarily close and the residents be relocated.
Eight patients receiving long-term residential care at the unit are affected by the move and at least two others who receive respite care on a temporary basis.
Concerned the move would distress both patients and families, who would find it challenging to visit them in Douglas, the announcement provoked several comments and queries that the Isle of Man Examiner put to the Department of Social Care.
Their responses are below:
1. Relatives were surprised at the late notice. Why was just six days’ notice given?
The decision to close the unit was not taken until Tuesday, and was based on the need to maintain safe levels of care. Levels of care had dropped to a critical level because of unplanned sick leave, therefore could not be anticipated.
The department is very conscious that a bank holiday weekend is coming, and deferred the closure until after this weekend. This is maximum notice it was possible to give in the circumstances.
2. Relatives also said the issue had been badly managed … managers should have anticipated the shortage of staffing and addressed it much earlier to avert this crisis.
The department has been working for the past five months to recruit suitably qualified and experienced staff, and has made comprehensive efforts to secure permanent appointments, bank staff and agency staff – on and off Island. There is a national shortage of both Registered Nurses and Registered Mental Nurses both on the island and in the UK. The department has also worked closely with the department of Health to resolve this issue, but has been unable to secure sufficient additional staff. This is also not a matter of funding. The Department has secured additional funding to support the use of agency staff.
3. They were also surprised that there was no advertising done in the local media for staff. Is it true, as they were told at Wednesday’s meeting, that there it is a ‘policy’ of the department’s that no advertising is done locally?
Advertising is done using the internet, the local job centres, via email to all government staff, and through specialist press.
Vacancies are available on government websites, and government vacancy lists are widely available across the island.
4. Does this therefore contradict Mr Robertshaw’s statement that: ‘We have taken all possible steps since the start of the year to secure the additional staff we need.’
All possible action has been taken to recruit suitable staff. There are not enough qualified and experienced staff available to fill vacancies.
5. Gansey is run under the DSC, but relatives claim because patients suffer from illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, it should be under the Department of Health. Is it true mental health nurses (if it were under the Department of Health) get paid less than those employed under the DSC?
No. There is a difference in grade and therefore salary, but nurses employed by the DSC are actually paid less than those in the DH. This has been reviewed, and job descriptions and pay grades are being recast to address this.
6. How was Thursday’s meeting with MHKs?
Re-opening Gansey remains a top priority for the department.
The difficult decision to close the unit on a temporary, precautionary basis was made to ensure that our standards of care for this vulnerable group continue to be able to be met.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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