Letters to the editor 12.09.19

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Complete rethink is needed over Dail Mhor Care Home

I was interested to read the item (Lochaber Times, September 5) regarding Dail Mhor Care Home which I now see is, very significantly, called ‘Respite Centre and Healthcare Hub’.

Sounds wonderful, but it doesn’t provide what’s needed.

Nowhere in the report is there any mention of the Joint Community Council Working Group raising with NHS Highland chief executive Iain Stewart the matter of permanent residential care at Dail Mhor. Instead, it appears from the report that the working group have allowed themselves to be sucked into the NHSH agenda of discussing a variety of peripheral services but avoiding any mention of ‘the elephant in the room’.

It is galling to read that ‘it is now being hailed across Highland as an example of community engagement and a potential model for future delivery of services’.

That is no more than a sickening example of NHSH public relations rhetoric and, if the working group subscribe to it, they are not expressing the views of the community who are disgusted that NHSH have closed down the permanent residential care facilities at Dail Mhor.

In the absence of these facilities, elderly people in this remote community who find themselves or their loved ones in need of residential care are faced with the prospect of being placed many miles from home and family support.

An example of this is an elderly gentleman in Strontian who, in order to visit his wife, is faced with a return bus journey and ferry crossing to Fort William which takes up most of a day for him. When his wife was in respite care at Dail Mhor, he could visit daily but now it is about once a week.

That is a dire situation and in an ageing community is only likely to become very common, so if NHSH and the Joint Community Council Working Group consider it is to be ‘hailed across Highland’ and is a ‘potential model for future delivery of services’, they really need to be made to think again rather than patting themselves on the back for failing to meet crucial service needs.

Alan Thomson, The Old Barn, Kilcamb Paddock, Strontian.

Reduction of service at Lorn Resource Centre is beyond shabby

I read with anger, the report (The Oban Times, August 29) which noted proposed changes by Argyll and Bute Integrated Joint Board to Oban’s Lorn Resource Centre. I have no knowledge of Lynnside so cannot comment on that.

From its opening in 1985, I worked as part of the senior team of Willowview House until I left in 2000 and know full well the huge value of the service provision given at the Lorn Resource Centre.

Willowview House was originally a purpose-built setting for adults who had a learning difficulty and the bungalow was home for the then officer in charge.

It seems extraordinary that during all those years our residents and service users in Oban could attend LRC up to five days a week at no cost. I have kept in contact with former residents and colleagues and understand now that folk have to pay for every hour they attend the centre. One lady I know tells me she can now just afford to go for two half days instead of five full days. Of course, the excellent cooked meals are also long gone.

During my years in Willowview, our dedicated staff worked tirelessly to find work experience or jobs where this was possible or appropriate for residents or respite service users. In those days, there was some limited funding for job supporters to work alongside service users to help support them into the world of work. That funding, too, is long gone. So what openings and opportunities are there other than those offered at Lorn Resource Centre?

To try to further reduce service provision is so shabby it defies description. In Scandinavian countries, all individuals can have job supporters. Any country, council or body that seeks to penalise, remove and reduce services to some of the most vulnerable members of society is not worth its name.

I sincerely hope the community in Oban will vigorously oppose any further reduction or removal of services or facilities by the Integrated Joint Board.

Aileen Armstrong, formerly of Seil and Oban.

Build a multi-storey car park at the Corran Halls

I left Oban in 1979 and returned to live here a year ago. It has been pleasing to note that some great improvements have been made: the (mostly) improved walkways and lighting, Stafford Street and the visitor pontoons. BID4Oban is doing a good job marketing the town and we boast excellent shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs and accommodation.

Puzzling, though, is the lack of a solution to probably the biggest bugbear locally – parking. Having been involved in countless tourist destination projects across Asia, one of the very first items to be thought through is parking, whether for cars, buses, motorhomes, minibuses or whatever, whether they be drop-off, pick-up, short-stay or long-stay.

I realise it is difficult retrospectively to build proper infrastructure in an established environment but it seems to me that the right vision plus consensus and drive from key stakeholders, the issue could be resolved.

In my view, a well-designed multi-storey car park at the Corran Halls would make sense. It would be highly visible to the majority of people entering Oban by road and would deter a number from driving deeper into an already congested town centre. Put in some decent loos, light it brightly and make it a pleasurable first impression of Oban.

Perhaps a partially covered perspex walkway from the car park to the North Pier (or beyond) could be constructed with occasional seating along the way.

These ideas have quite possibly been raised before, but watching the anger and frustration of locals and visitors alike this summer tells me that issue must be a top priority for the town.

John Watson, Benvoullin Gardens, Oban.