No home care on Coll so go to Mull, 92-year-old told

The island of Coll. Photo: Tony Oliver of Coll Digital

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Elderly people needing home care on Coll are being ignored and treated as ‘substandard citizens’, it has been claimed.

Islander Colin Kennedy says when a week’s home care was not available for his 92-year-old blind and deaf mother, the only option offered was for him to take her to Mull’s Bowmore Court sheltered flats – 75 miles away and involving two ferry trips and a night-stop in Oban – and that was just to get there.

Mr Kennedy says the situation on Coll is ‘simply outrageous’ and that it was known  months before this happened last month that accommodation on Coll was unavailable for carers and there would be problems.

He says he even offered a flat for carers but it was never taken up.

Mr Kennedy says Coll’s elderly are ‘being deprived of any appropriate level of care’ and are being failed, and he has written to Argyll and Bute Council chief executive Pippa Milne  and NHS local area manager for Oban Lorn and Isles Morven McPhillips, as well as councillors and parliamentary representatives to red flag his concerns.

He says the current situation goes against the Government care directive and that previous questions asking why his mother was only getting 25 per cent of visits due in her care plan have gone unanswered.

‘It has been known for many months that accommodation on Coll was unavailable for any carers and that care was going to be a problem. I offered a flat for accommodation, an offer which was ignored in true council fashion. In so far as Coll and its people are concerned,  the elderly with care plans are simply being ignored,’ said Mr Kennedy, who claims he has also been told existing care plans potentially might have to change to suit carers availability rather than being based on the elderly’s assessed care needs.

‘The time is long past for the elected members to stand up and take control from the failing executive who are incapable of delivering any service comparable with those in other areas of Argyll & Bute,’ he wrote in his letter, adding it is ‘a violation of the human rights of the elderly on Coll who are treated as substandard citizens’.

‘It should be remembered the vast sums of additional funding Argyll & Bute Council receive from Government directly for Islands, yet Coll can get nothing but failure where the elderly are concerned.

‘As I understand the situation here, most elderly don’t have a care plan in order to  overcome the legal obligation of the council to provide care while those who do have care plans are simply ignored and forgotten about.

‘Dare I say, were this animals on a farm being treated in this manner, the RSPCA would take appropriate action which would in all probability result in the owner being banned from being in charge of any animals in the future. Only Argyll & Bute could treat the elderly in such an appalling manner,’ said Mr Kennedy.

Mr Kennedy believes that only about 25 of the full-time adult population living on Coll  are under the age of 55, with just one GP, a visiting district nurse from Tiree and limited carer support when available.

Councillor Roddy McCuish said it was ‘a sorry state of affairs’ and he was deeply concerned by Mr Kennedy’s statement. ‘I really do feel that the islands are being ignored and a prime example of this is the scandalous care situation on the island of Coll for our elderly.

‘The very least people on Coll can expect is to get the same quality of care as you can get on the mainland. We shouldn’t be having to ask for that.’

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership said it was not appropriate to comment on a specific individual’s care but it was recognised there are ‘significant pressures’ on ‘care at home services on Coll’.

He said: ‘This is due to a variety of reasons including recruitment issues, difficulties in attracting carers to work on the island, and the lack of suitable accommodation locally. 

‘We are working closely with families to discuss the options that are available to ensure their relatives continue to receive care and we will continue to engage with them as we work towards achieving a sustainable service in the longer term.’

Argyll & Bute MP Brendan O’Hara said he has contacted the new interim chief officer of Argyll & Bute HSCP Fiona Davies to raise the issue directly with her.

‘It is important that everyone with a care package receives the appropriate level of care for their needs, no matter where they live,’ he said.