Three new bedrooms are to be created in the newly-merged Lerwick care homes of Edward Thomason House and Taing House.
They will make a “vital” contribution to the capacity of the building, according to head of community health and social care Simon Bokor-Ingram. The joining of the two care centres for the elderly has already created space for six extra bedrooms, and the three new ones would come from “rationalising” the kitchen and laundry areas.
Speaking at a meeting of the council’s social services committee and the NHS’s community health partnership, Mr Bokor-Ingram said that money for the new rooms would come from an underspend on the Edward Thomason and Taing House project of nearly £1 million. Creating the new rooms would be “an expedient use of money”.
According to Mr Bokor-Ingram, the council’s capital projects service said the money is available, and he expects the idea to be “signed off” on Monday, after which it will go out to tender.
He added that most former residents of Viewforth in Burgh Road had already been moved to the newly-merged care homes.
However four residents remain in Viewforth, which is due to close as soon as possible as it is not deemed the most suitable place for its residents.
Mr Bokor-Ingram stressed that the care of the remaining four was up to the standard that had always been delivered – in fact it had improved, according to a score awarded by the Care Inspectorate. He said that to ensure care at Viewforth remains good, a team leader was based there.
However he was “very mindful” of the impact of continuing to care for the four in an environment which was not cost effective, and was keen to see the “end of the road”.
He added that delayed discharges from hospital added to the problem of finding new accommodation for the four.
Meanwhile he said that telehealthcare, which involves greater use if technology in the home of a person needing care, is of great benefit in enabling people to remain in their own homes as long as possible.
Devices which indicate when a person gets up, or leaves the house, have already been in use for some time.
A new two-way product called “Giraff”, a portable unit to communicate with someone with dementia, is to be trialled in Shetland. But the meeting heard that it requires broadband connections, possibly of a greater bandwidth than is available in Shetland, and trials in the Western Isles proved disappointing.
Councillor Theo Smith asked:”What does Giraff do?” and Mr Bokor-Ingram said it was “aspirational…this piece of kit will push some boundaries.”
Councillor Alastair Cooper added that in the absence of acacia trees (giraffes’ preferred food) it was important to know Shetland’s broadband speeds.