UNIONS are planning to mount a protest outside the Legislative Buildings against the closure of the Glenside residential home in Douglas.
And they have also launched a petition to try to save the home.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Department of Social Care has long-term proposals to redevelop the Glenside site.
Chief executive Chris Corlett confirmed the department’s preference was a mixed use housing development that would include ‘extra care’ housing for the elderly. He said such a multi-million pound scheme would need Council of Ministers and ultimately Tynwald approval.
He said: ‘We do see the site as a valuable one. But we have not worked up any plans. Any redevelopment would be a minimum of two years away. Our focus now is on the staff, the service users and their families.’
Related Article: Government-run residential home to close down.
There was no mention of such a redevelopment plan when Social Care Minister Chris Robertshaw announced in the House of Keys last week that no new admissions would be taken at the Glenside Resource Centre and it was expected to close completely by 2014.
He explained this was part of a shake-up of adult social care services which will see more elderly people receiving care in their own homes.
Unite regional industrial organiser Steve Salter said: ‘We will be organising a protest over the closure of Glenside along with a petition which members of the public can feel free to pop into our office on Fort Street to sign. There is much support to keep a residential care home open on the Glenside site. We do accept that the existing building needs modernisation but we feel that this should not be done at the expense of standards of care and the reduction in staffing numbers.’
He said the news about Glenside’s closure had not come as a shock as information has been leaking out of the department for several months now. ‘The minister’s announcement only confirmed what we have being told by our members for several months,’ he said.
He added: ‘I do not believe that this is being led to improve services for the elderly and vulnerable it is purely being led by the need to save money, which the argument is still out on. Figures recently released within the UK show almost 40 per cent of all reported abuse takes place behind closed doors out of sight out of mind within an individual’s own property.
‘Now that we know the timescale for the closure of Glenside it will give us the opportunity to force the Minister to review his stance on the benefits of care in the community. The UK went down this route in the 1980’s and rather than huge savings being brought about the reforms led to chaos within the care sector.’
Mr Salter claimed the only beneficiaries of the UK’s model of community care were the ‘third sector’ and private sector service providers which were predominantly profit led and not needs led services.
But he said the union was also concerned that its members working at Glenside had no guarantees that their jobs would be secure over the next two years – nor that they would keep existing terms and conditions if they were transferred to the voluntary or private sector.
He called again on the government to protect workers’ terms and conditions when their employer changed hands.
‘This would go a long way to alleviate our members’ concerns over job security. Both the Chief Minister and Minister Robertshaw could give those reassurances now to demonstrate a commitment to this group of staff. Without these written commitments there could be a mass exodus of staff leaving Glenside over the coming months, leaving the department in an even bigger mess,’ he said.
The petition is available for signatures at Unite’s Transport House headquarters on Fort Street, Douglas.