18th August 2011
Additional Unit in Southlands to Open
Issued jointly by the Department of Social Care and the Southern MHKs
The Department of Social Care has announced today its intention to re-open the Surby Unit in Southlands Resource Centre for older people. The Surby Unit is a 12-bed facility with en suite toilets, a lounge and dining room formerly used as an EMI (Elderly Mentally Infirm) Unit. Surby had been used to accommodate residents from Douglas who were re-located while the new, purpose-built Thie Meanagh EMI facility was built in Douglas. Thie Meanagh was opened in July 2009 and residents were successfully returned to Douglas. Since that time, Surby has been empty.
The Minister for the Department of Social Care Hon Martyn Quayle MHK said:
“Southlands is a modern, purpose-built facility. Since I became Minister for Social Care on 1st April 2010, I have received joint representations from the MHKs for the South of the Island who are keen to see the Surby unit opened to enable older people in the South who require residential care to remain in their local community so they can more readily maintain links with family and friends while receiving the level of care they need. I instructed my officers to conduct a comprehensive review of older people’s residential care on the Island to see if my Department could achieve the objective of opening Surby without the need for additional staff or funding, given the financial challenges Government is now addressing.
I am pleased to confirm that, following a detailed review, my Department can meet this objective. Opening Surby will enable a number of older people who are originally from the South and who are currently in residential care in other parts of the Island to move to Southlands. Additionally, it will enable a number of older people in the South who have been assessed as requiring residential care to move to Southlands from their homes. I believe this will offer care that is more appropriate for the older people affected at no additional cost and so represents good value for money.
It is my Department’s intent that Surby will open after 1st April 2012. This will give my Department sufficient time to discuss the possible move with relevant service users and with staff and unions. The transfer of older people is a particularly sensitive matter and so I believe it is appropriate time is taken to plan and manage the move carefully. With regard to staff, there are a number of vacancies currently in residential care and so many of the posts can be filled by people wishing to be employed in the South. Additionally, some residential care staff who live in the South but work in other parts of the Island will have an opportunity to seek to transfer to Southlands. In this way I think we can achieve real benefits for the South of the Island and for residential care nationally while minimising the impact of the transition.
I would like to thank my colleague Bill Malarkey MHK who has directed this work in his role as the Member for Social Services.”
The Department was approached last year by the MHKs representing the South of the Island, namely Hon Phil Gawne, Mr Gill and Mr Watterson for Rushen; Hon Tony Brown for Castletown; and Mr Cregeen for Malew and Santon. The Department has met with them on three occasions over the last year in order to address the matter of appropriate residential care for older people in the South. They are familiar with both the needs of their local communities and the Department’s plans.
The MHKs issued a joint statement:
“We have been concerned for some time that some older people in the South who required residential care were having to wait sometimes long periods to be admitted to Southlands or were having to choose to leave the area in order to access residential care in others parts of the Island such that it was less convenient for them to maintain important links with family and friends. We have made representations to the Minister to ensure he understood these concerns. We are well aware that the Department was not in a position to commit additional resources to open Surby. We are delighted that the Minister has concluded his Department can re-deploy resources such that we can make best use of Southlands to meet the community’s needs within the Department’s existing budgets. We look forward to the opening of Surby next year.”Southlands Resource Centre is one of the largest employers in the South, employing over 60 people. It provides a wide range of services for older people in the South. It provides both permanent and respite residential care for individuals with a wide range of needs. It also provides a wide range of day care facilities including a day centre and computer drop-in centre run by Age Concern as well as a shop staffed by the Women’s Institute and supported by a local newsagent, Calverts. It also has a hairdresser’s salon used by a number of visiting hairdressers.
In addition, Southlands provides a ‘hospital to home’ service which enables people who are recovering from an injury or operation to stay for up to eight weeks in order to build up skills and confidence so that they are able to return to their own homes and maintain their independence. The majority of older people wish to remain in their own homes and also the cost to the taxpayer is far lower than the alternative of residential care, hence this service represents good value for money.
Older people in need of care at Southlands Resource Centre are referred by their Social Worker to the allocation panel and rooms are allocated on the basis of prioritised need. Older people can also receive support from the Department’s Home Care Service, which enables individuals to remain in their own homes.