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Temporary Closure of Gansey Unit in Southlands 23 August 2012

The Department of Social Care has taken the decision to temporarily close the Gansey Unit of the Southlands Resource Centre in Port Erin on 28th August for a period of at least one month as a precautionary measure. The Gansey Unit provides Elderly Mentally Infirm (EMI) care requiring specialist trained staff. The Department has been seeking to develop and recruit such staff to maintain appropriate staffing levels, but this challenge has been compounded by recent sickness levels which, combined with annual leave, mean that staff numbers in the Gansey Unit have now reached a level which will compromise standards of care if action is not taken immediately.

The Minister for Social Care Hon Chris Robertshaw MHK said:

“Our priority is for the safe care of our service users. It is vital we have suitably skilled staff to provide care for this particularly vulnerable group of individuals. We have taken all possible steps since the start of the year to secure the additional staff we need to ensure we can continue to provide a high standard of care but in the face of a general shortage in suitably skilled nurses across the Island and the UK we have not been fully successful. Taking this into account, with deep regret we have had to take the decision to temporarily close the Gansey Unit. May I emphasise that this is a temporary closure. I have made the re-opening of Gansey Unit our top priority. We are making strenuous efforts to secure additional skilled staff to enable the unit to re-open soon. We will make every effort to keep the affected residents, their families and staff informed of updates promptly when we are in a position to do so.”

The eight residents affected will be transferred to Thie Meanagh in Douglas, which is a purpose-built EMI facility where the Department will be able to meet their care needs. Staff who currently work at Gansey will be transferred to Thie Meanagh alongside the residents in order to provide continuity of care.

Meetings for relatives and staff were held yesterday. Information has also been provided for relatives of residents at Thie Meanagh and Glenside in order to reassure them they will be unaffected. A briefing for the Members of the House of Keys representing the South of the Island has been organised for lunch-time today in order to brief them on the necessity for the temporary closure and reassure them of the priority this matter is being given.

The Department would like to apologise for any distress or difficulty that this may cause, and give assurances of our best endeavours to recruit the staff needed to continue to provide high quality care for our residents. We recognise that the move may well be difficult for those who visit regularly. The decision to close the Unit was not taken lightly, but reflects our concern for the well being of our residents.

The Department is working hard to recruit additional staff into the service, both new permanent staff plus some agency nursing staff to help to meet short-term needs. There is also a recruitment campaign ongoing, with a closing date for applications of 30 August, for Bank positions for registered nurses and care staff. The Department will review the position regarding the re-opening of Gansey during September.

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