A 94-year-old woman who faces being “evicted” from her care home is struggling with increasing anxiety as a result, Nicola Sturgeon has been told.
Labour leader Richard Leonard highlighted the case of Nancy Sutherland, who suffers from dementia-like symptoms, and currently lives in one of the 12 homes being closed by Bield after it decided to “withdraw from the residential care home market”.
The First Minister accepted the move would be “unsettling” and “traumatic” for those concerned.
She pledged the Scottish Government would “do everything we can to guarantee continuity of care for these residents and make sure there is no compromise whatsoever in the quality of their care”.
Mr Leonard spoke of the “growing crisis in care provision” in Scotland, claiming the sector was “on the brink of collapse”.
Some 160 elderly people facing losing their home while hundreds of Bield workers risk being made redundant as a result of the company’s decision in October to stop operating in the care home sector.
Mr Leonard pressed the SNP leader on the issue at First Minister’s Questions, saying: “Last Saturday Labour MSPs attended a Save Our Bield campaign group meeting in Glasgow.
“They heard first-hand families tell of the stress their frail elderly relatives are under because they are about to be evicted from their specialist care homes.
“These are people in their 70s, their 80s, some are even in their 90s, being evicted.
“One woman, Nancy Sutherland, is 94, she has been a Bield tenant for 23 years and along with 166 other elderly people she is about to lose her home.
“Every day she asks her daughter where she will be moving to and every day her anxiety levels rise. They rise because her daughter has no answer. Does the First Minister?”
Ms Sturgeon responded: “It is exactly because we realise how unsettling, indeed how traumatic this decision has been and will be for residents, their families and employees that the Scottish Government will continue to work to ensure we can do everything we can to guarantee continuity of care for these residents and make sure there is no compromise whatsoever in the quality of their care.”
Since being alerted to the company’s decision, she said the government had worked with Bield, the Care Inspectorate and others, including new joint health and social care integration authorities.
However, Mr Leonard accused the Scottish Government of making public-sector cuts “that affect people like Mrs Sutherland and too many others like her”.
The Labour leader said: “First Minister your care policies are failing.
“Surely you must see that the time has come for your government to stop the cuts to lifeline services or will you continue to fail people like Mrs Sutherland?”
Ms Sturgeon responded: “In the current financial year almost £0.5 billion of frontline NHS spending will be invested in social care services and integration of health and social care.
“We’re putting forward a Budget that is about protecting public services, investing an additional £400 million in our national health service, giving a fair deal to local authorities.”