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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 June, 2003, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Campaigners claim care home victory
By Graeme Esson
BBC News Online Scotland

Elderly person (generic)
The home's closure was announced last year
Families who campaigned against the closure of a Fife care home have claimed victory after the remaining residents were moved together to new premises.

Several residents of Leslie House in Glenrothes refused to move after the Church of Scotland announced plans for its closure last year.

They stood firm after Fife Council began legal action to secure guardianship over the seven frail elderly people who remained in the facility.

However, a deal was eventually done between the families and the local authority which allowed the residents to move together to a new home - accompanied by the staff who cared for them.

Ross Vettraino, who speaks for the Leslie House 21 Group, said: "You would not believe the relief that I have felt."

'Fairly contented'

The residents moved to their new home, Alan McLure House in Glenrothes, on 28 May.

"They seem to be settling quite well," Mr Vettraino - whose 93-year-old mother May lives in the home - told BBC News Online Scotland.

"They are looking okay and they are fairly contented at the moment, but time will tell."

He said he was angry that it had taken more than a year to resolve the situation.

It took us more than a year to get the council to do its job
Ross Vettraino

Mr Vettraino said the residents had secured a "major victory" after the Kirk accepted the need to learn lessons from the case.

A motion at the general assembly promised to carry out consultation and assessments before implementing any future closures.

The church announced the closure of Leslie House last April because it could not afford to keep running the home, which was operating at a deficit of 160,000 a year.

The church's board of social responsibility is due to make an announcement on Friday on the future of its 30 care homes.

There have already been warnings that some may have to close after the homes ran up a 5.7m deficit.

Seek guardianship

Mr Vettraino said he remained angry over the Kirk's handling of the closure decision.

He also condemned the actions of Fife Council's social work department.

It went to court to seek guardianship of the seven remaining residents so that they could be moved from the home.

However, the case was delayed and the council came to an agreement with the relatives through their lawyer.

"A series of meetings took place and we persuaded them they needed to carry out proper, more detailed assessments," said Mr Vettraino.

"It took us more than a year to get the council to do its job."

However, Douglas Sinclair, Chief Executive of Fife Council, strongly denied Mr Vettraino's criticism.

He said: "I am saddened by the comments made by Mr Vettraino over this matter. They are completely unfounded.

"Fife Council staff worked extremely closely with relatives and the Church of Scotland to provide accommodation appropriate to the needs of the residents of Leslie House.

"Fife Council staff carried out their duties in a completely professional and very caring way under what were at times, extremely difficult circumstances. "


SEE ALSO:
Elderly to stage care home protest
04 Jul 02  |  Scotland
Kirk to close elderly care homes
18 Apr 02  |  Scotland


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