|Social care director on defensive over shock at elderly comment|
|Written by Peterborough Today|
|Thursday, 19 July 2012|
The head of adult social care at Peterborough City Council has been forced to defend himself after a controversial comment at a public meeting.
Executive director Terry Rich came under heavy fire after he appeared to criticise an elderly lady living at care home Greenwood House, which Peterborough City Council is proposing to close along with Welland House, for talking to the media.
At a scrutiny committee for health meeting at Town Hall on Tuesday, Mr Rich, referring to a BBC interview with 92-year-old Clara Woods, said: “The assistance and commitment of staff, even if their jobs are threatened, to reduce anxiety is crucial - that does not mean setting off old ladies in tears on the radio.”
The comment was met with disbelief by staff and families , who stormed out in anger.
Explaining his comments yesterday, Mr Rich said: “What I want to reiterate is that at this difficult time it is really important for staff to understand their professional responsibility to take every opportunity to relieve the anxiety of residents and their families.
“It is imperative staff continue to fully consider how they work with residents and avoid anything that might add to their anxiety and stress.”
Cllr Michael Fletcher, who sits on the committee, said it would be a tragedy if either of the two care homes shut.
He added: “It is disgraceful. I don’t think this is a real consultation. The decision has already been made. Everyone was right to walk out after what he said.”
John Toomey, from Unison, said: “Throughout the meeting staff behaved in a dignified way, putting points across and then sat and listened while other councillors spoke.
“However, when they were accused of having used a 92-year-old woman they couldn’t contain themselves any longer and left.”
The council launched a consultation earlier this week on the closure of the homes, but in an interview with the PT Mr Rich admitted he had been involved in the closure of a number of public care homes which followed consultations.
Asked if any consultations ended with the homes being saved, he said: “I can’t recall any circumstances where a home has not been closed. What often happens is, once individuals begin the process of the consultation they realise what is available. It wouldn’t be surprising if people begin to think perhaps it is worth looking at that new home.”