Southlands EMI unit open again by end of October

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THE elderly and mentally infirm unit at Southlands in Port St Mary will reopen in October following a recruitment drive.

News that the Gansey unit would close on a temporary basis on August 28 because of staff shortages was greeted with shock by relatives of the eight residents there who have had to be moved to a unit at Thie Meanagh in Farmhill, Douglas.

Social Care Minister Chris Robertshaw told a Tynwald scrutiny committee that he was hopeful the Gansey EMI unit could reopen in six to eight weeks’ time. Confirming that staff shortages were to blame for the temporary closure, Chris Corlett, chief executive of the Department of Social Care, said that two staff had left the island, two were on long-term sick leave and a couple had gone on maternity leave.

‘It was a bit of a perfect storm,’ he admitted.

He said his department had been actively recruiting new staff.

Mr Corlett said they were advertising for three permanent registered mental health nurses plus one part time. These posts have been regraded so they are now paid at the same rate as their counterparts in Noble’s Hospital – problems in recruiting new staff were blamed in part on the fact that RMNs in Social Care were paid at a lower grade.

One residential nurse has already been recruited and is waiting for their work permit. Three agency staff have been secured who will work across all the island’s EMI units. An advert for an additional bank careworker prompted 39 applications and 19 of these were being interviewed that week, the committee was told.

The Surby unit at Southlands will also open in October, initially with six beds, the department has announced.

Meanwhile, the Glenside resources centre in Douglas is now expected to shut for good by Easter next year. Of the 57 residents living there when the closure plan was announced in February, only 22 remain with 16 of these in the EMI unit transferring to Thie Meanagh in the near future.

The Minister said all but six staff had secured other employment. He said it had originally been feared there may be 10 to 12 redundancies but it may now be possible for there to be no redundancies at all.

Mrs Cannell asked him about the fears that the move of residents could have led to an increase in the mortality rate but Mr Corlett replied that this was not the case.

He said his department would argue strongly for the Glenside building to be converted into modern sheltered facilities for the elderly.

Reayrt Skyal, A new resource centre in Ramsey specialising in EMI care, will open before the end of the year.

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