Hillcrest outcome delights all

Even though only one month short of his 95th birthday, Robbie Saville was prepared to take drastic action if the future of his Hillcrest home came under threat.

With a steely glint in his eye he said: “I’d have chained myself to that Stumpy Tower and I wouldn’t have given up until they changed their minds”.

But this week, Robbie was celebrating the news with a glass of champagne in the residents’ lounge and he was joined by 95-year old Susan McWhirter from Ballantrae. Hillcrest has been her home for the last 20 years, making her its longest resident. She said she was “delighted with the news”

The story of the battle to save Hillcrest has been a long and complex one. Originally, it had been South Ayrshire Council’s intention to demolish it and provide a new care home on the site but, over the years, as council finances became more constrained and the Government turned towards home care in the community, these plans fell by the wayside.

Then the nearby sheltered accommodation at McConnell Square became unfit for purpose and was earmarked for demolition, so the council then proposed that the Hillcrest care home should close and current residents would be given the opportunity to transfer to new fully-serviced homes to be built on the site. This caused great concern because it was felt that many of the residents would be unsuitable for transfer to these units and even those who were would have been returning to a form of sheltered housing in which they had already been before requiring the full-time care which Hillcrest offered.

Prior to that a proposal to add a “new” Hillcrest on to the existing Trust Housing facility at nearby Old Street fell through when the land necessary could not be purchased.

With matters coming to a head, a number of meetings have been held since the start of this year with the home’s supporters making it clear that a facility of Hillcrest’s standards, whichis fully in compliance with Scottish Care Standards, must be maintained for the future to service the needs of the area’s elderly people.

Last week’s outcome has pleased everyone associated with the long and sometimes fractious fight to save Hillcrest.

Confirming the decision, Kenny Leinster, South Ayrshire Council’s head of housing and community care, said: “I’m pleased that, for the foreseeable future, Hillcrest will continue to provide a high quality of care and support for vulnerable and frail residents.”

He and his officials were thanked for taking on their concerns by Denis Reid, who said: “It’s encouraging to be able to give local folk this piece of excellent news”

Cllr. Alec Clark said: “This was definitely worth fighting for and I commend all who argued their case so very well. This issue alone has made my election as a councillor feel well worthwhile”.

Cllr. Alec Oattes commented: “I am delighted that a decision has been reached to allow Hillcrest to continue providing the high level of respite and residential care”

While Cllr. John McDowall added; “I am delighted with this outcome for current and future residents who need the care that only Hillcrest can provide” .