Concern for future of elderly care home in Campbeltown
Concern is mounting over the future of a loss-making care home for elderly people with dementia in Argyll.
The Auchinlee home in Campbeltown is run by Crossreach, a social care charity linked to the Church of Scotland's Social Care Council.
But it has been losing hundreds of thousands of pounds and could close without extra taxpayer-funded support.
Some relatives fear their residents may be moved to other parts of Argyll if a deal cannot be agreed to save the home.
Crossreach has been subsidising the cost of running the home for several years but argues this has become unsustainable.
The money to run the home comes from the Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership - a shared service between the local council and the NHS.
Although the partnership pays Crossreach at the standard national rate, Crossreach says this is not enough to cover the cost of running Auchinlee and it cannot subsidise the operation.
The operator said the main reason for the relatively high cost was the difficulty recruiting staff in a rural area. This meant some staff have to be brought in from elsewhere at a significant additional cost.
Crossreach's governing body, the Social Care Council of the Church of Scotland, will discuss the situation next week.
A campaign to "save" Auchinlee is due to be formally launched in Campbeltown. A petition has already attracted a large number of signatures.
A statement issued jointly by Crossreach and the Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership said: "Our first thought is with the residents at Auchinlee, as well as their relatives and the staff.
"We recognise the quality of care Auchinlee provides and the value the community places on it.
"We have both worked hard in the interest of preserving the care the residents receive, and we believe we have considered every available option within our shared resources."
The statement added: "The major challenges in recruitment locally are a significant reason why any partnership could not guarantee sustainable and quality care for the residents.
"Crossreach is continuing to face major problems in recruiting suitably qualified social care staff in Kintyre.
"Meeting the regulatory requirements for staffing at Auchinlee is currently dependent on internal secondments and agency staff, who are mainly from outside the local area. This means the large number of vacancies is being covered at a significant additional cost."
Auchinlee can accommodate up to 20 elderly people with dementia.
Relatives of some of the residents are now concerned the home could close.
They say the other care home in Campbeltown would not have places for their relatives, and places may have to be found elsewhere in Argyll.
This could leave dementia sufferers in unfamiliar surroundings and mean relatives would face a lengthy round trip to see them.
However, sources close to the partnership have stressed to BBC Scotland that the wellbeing of the residents will be their primary concern.