RELATIVES of residents at a care home for elderly dementia sufferers have called on a local authority to abandon plans to lease it to the NHS and force their loved ones to move.
Renfrewshire Council has announced it is considering a scheme that would transfer Hunterhill Care Home in Paisley to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, with current residents to be moved elsewhere. The health board wants to use the facility to "bring home" patients who were transferred from Renfrewshire to Glasgow when asbestos was discovered in Dykebar Hospital in 2012.
However, people whose family members currently live at Hunterhill are calling for the project to be scrapped as they fear it will put their relatives' health at risk.
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The residence is home to about 40 dementia sufferers, who are looked after full-time. If a decision is taken to lease Hunterhill to the NHS, they would be moved another council-run facility.
Renfrewshire Council's Social Work, Health and Wellbeing Policy Board voted last week to give the green light to officials to examine ways to transfer it to NHS control.
But teacher Kathleen Bryson, whose 88-year-old mother Catherine is a resident at the home, said she had grave concerns about the move.
She said: "It took my mother a long time to settle in Hunterhill and I told her that she wouldn't be leaving. She suffers from dementia and has had a hip operation.
"I do not know if she is physically strong enough to move again. I think this could be the death of her. The speed with which this has been done is unacceptable and we want them to put it on hold while we examine if there are any other options."
Ms Bryson is organising a committee of residents' families to oppose the council's plan, and says she has been contacted by people in the local community and staff members anonymously to offer support.
Also leading the relatives group is Liz Duff, whose 76-year-old mother Nettie Cummings has lived in Hunterhill for two years. She said: "We feel this decision has been rushed through without our views being taken into account and no-one has asked us what we want.
"My mother fell badly a while back and walks with a zimmer frame, but she still knows where she is. It would be terrible for her to move again, and I am not relishing telling her."
If the care home passes over to the health board, it will be used to house former patients from Dykebar Hospital, who were sent to Glasgow's Mansionhouse unit when asbestos was discovered there in 2012.
A Renfrewshire Council spokesman said the "sole objective" was to improve services for all the older people in the community.
He said: "There is a pressing need for this type of service. If this option were made available it would allow us to bring home the Renfrewshire patients at the Mansionhouse Unit in Glasgow.
"These patients are 60 years old and over and the majority have severe dementia and complex medical conditions which requiring substantial, ongoing care by NHS staff.
"No final decision will be taken on the proposals relating to the Hunterhill Care Home until August.
"We recognise that these proposals have caused relatives and residents some concern. But we will consult with residents, their families and friends and the local community on the proposals over the next three months.
"The Hunterhill Care Home is not closing. It will remain available to meet the changing needs of older people in Renfrewshire."
A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: "In 2012 wards at Dykebar Hospital were temporarily moved after material which contains asbestos was found during refurbishment work. This temporary move was made to enable us to fully assess the options available and a detailed option appraisal confirms the building could not be made safe.
"We have been working in partnership with Renfrewshire Council at options to transfer these beds back to Renfrewshire."