The news that Castlebeck Care has gone into administration is not the end of the story.
In Scotland there are still residents in three Castlebeck residential homes (in Dundee, Dunblane and Lockerbie) and in a private hospital in Dundee. No doubt alternative providers will be found. But this is an opportunity to do so much more than provide more of the same. We owe it to our most vulnerable citizens to find out what each of these individuals wants for their lives and to build the kind of support that will give them a future. Like most people, they will probably want help to stay well, things to do, friends and a home of their own. This is an opportunity to put person-centred health and care to the test.
For too long young people with autism, learning disabilities and mental health problems who challenge services have been allowed to reach crisis point. Now is an opportune time to channel the anger and distress caused by the Panorama investigation into Winterbourne View into a commitment to improve services to those most at risk of long-term institutional care.
As the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Mr Alex Neil put it this week at a conference organised by the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland “Departments or organisations shouldn’t matter – what should matter is ‘are we doing the right thing for the person at the centre of the care strategy?’” It is how to achieve the best outcomes for the person, not the provider or where there is an available bed or care home place, that must determine how they are supported. Our MSPs are debating the integration of health and social care. I suggest they start by sorting out how to overcome the blockages that prevent budgets being shared and professionals working together to do the best for those people living in hospital-type environments who do not need to be there. Those who challenge our health and care systems the most have the most to teach us about how to improve our services for everyone.