UNUSED ELGIN COTTAGES are to be transformed into a “halfway house” from hospital to home for elderly patients in Moray.
Proposals agreed by the health and social care services committee at Moray Council on Thursday will see the Jubilee Cottages on Victoria Road turned into temporary accommodation that would go some way to alleviating “bed blocking” issues faced by NHS Grampian.
Under the scheme it is hoped that older people will be helped to return to their own homes quicker after hospital treatment. Those who might otherwise remain in hospital will be eased back towards independence by spending some time at the new facilities created at the cottages.
Councillors heard that delayed discharges from hospital were happening because patients ready to leave after treatment could not do so until alternative care and support arrangements were in place.
Members of the committee had conducted a site visit at the cottages – and while there were concerns over if they could be put to better use in other ways they unanimously supported their use as a temporary care facility.
After being questioned by Councillor Fiona Murdoch on if the cottages might better serve to ease the housing burden in Moray, occupational therapy manager Lesley Attridge explained that they no longer met acceptable criteria for use as housing.
Ms Attridge said: “These houses will never come back into housing use – they are not deemed suitable long-term tenancy properties, but they are absolutely suitable for the purpose we are looking at.
“They are small – but they meet our needs and it is preferable that we capitalise on existing property.”
The issue will now be referred to the policy and resources committee who will study the costs involved in the plan before taking it any further.
Recent figures showed that NHS Grampian is currently the worst-affected authority in Scotland with 380 cases of people waiting for over two weeks to be discharged from hospital in the period from January to October last year.
The Scottish Government earmarked £1.5million in additional funding to Moray in an attempt to alleviate the situation.