Local News for Friday 3rd August 2018

Positive Review of Services for Older People
A Care Inspectorate progress review of services for older people in the Western Isles, undertaken in May 2018, indicated that the partnership had delivered “an impressive amount of improvement” since the inspection team last visited in 2015. In particular, the report highlights the benefits of a modernised homecare service, the introduction of a more coordinated approach to managing discharge from hospital and more robust community engagement structures.
The original joint inspection (in June 2015) had identified some strengths in the delivery of services for older people in the Western Isles but had also identified a number of weaknesses and twelve recommendations for improvement were made. Following the inspection, the partnership drew up a detailed action plan to deliver the required improvements and has subsequently monitored its implementation.

The report from the re-inspection undertaken in May 2018 states that “the partnership is in a much better place than when we visited in 2015. From our meetings with staff and managers at all levels, partner organisations, and with community representatives, we witnessed a much stronger sense of integration and a determination to work collaboratively and take a whole-system approach.” The report also comments that “Encouragingly, we found that leadership at key senior strategic levels was much improved” and that an important reason for the improvement could be found in “a determination by the council and the health board to work together to take advantage of the benefits which integration could offer.” The Report concludes: “Given the positive findings from our review, we do not intend to conduct any further scrutiny in relation to this inspection.”
Cllr Kenny John Macleod, Chairman of the Integration Joint Board, commented on the findings of the report: “We are obviously very pleased to see the improvements delivered by staff across health and social care. There has been concerted action at all levels to better support older people in the Western Isles and it is good that this has been recognised by the inspection team.
When the first inspection was undertaken in 2015 it was not uncommon to see older people stuck in hospital for many months – but we have witnessed a vast improvement in that area over the last few years. That has been helped by stronger community care services and by joint working across the NHS, Council and voluntary sector. The Integration Joint Board has brought all stakeholders together to plan for the needs of our local population together.
Mr Macleod concluded
“We know, of course, that we have more to do. We still face major challenges in relation to the recruitment of staff and we are still working through big programmes of reform which we hope will bring further benefits to older people who need support. But we are determined to make a success of this so that the people who use our services are able to access high quality care and support when they need it.”

MP Calls on MoD to Acknowledge Veterans’ Service
Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil is supporting the campaign for a squadron of Scots Army Reservists – who were the first Territorial Army unit to see action after World War 2 – to receive General Service Medals from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The Veterans of 300 Parachute Field Squadron Royal Engineers, 131 Parachute Engineer Regiment TA - who include Mr MacNeil’s constituent Eoghainn Maclachlainn of South Uist - were on a mission in Yemen (formerly known as South Arabia) in April 1965 to carry out various tasks on the Dhala Road, at Al Milah. On 12 April 1965, they were attacked by enemy fire.
The ensuing battle led to the loss of two lives including the Squadron’s Sergeant Major John F Lonergan and five others including Mr Maclachlainn, were seriously wounded.
Mr MacNeil has written to the MoD on several occasions regarding General Service Medals for the Squadron but the request has been repeatedly refused because the Squadron had not served 30 days in a war zone.
Mr MacNeil said: “I have been writing to the Ministry of Defence about this injustice for more than 2 years.
“The brave men who served in the 300 Parachute Field Squadron deserve recognition for their service. The battle which took place was not part of a training exercise but was active service.
“They are not looking for special awards, just the recognition all other soldiers get.
“I have written to the MoD once again to ask for this to be reconsidered.”

Crofting Support Lacking, says Federation
Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has welcomed the research report ‘Support for Crofting’ released this week by the Crofting Commission, saying it demonstrates that crofting support is lacking and needs to be redesigned.
“This impartial and well-presented research clearly shows that existing support mechanisms do not work as well as they could for crofting” said Russell Smith, Chair of the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF). “The researcher, Gwyn Jones, examines what works and what does not, and goes on to make recommendations on how support can be improved. This is very timely with the interim phase to agricultural and rural development support being explored in the Scottish Government consultation ‘Stability and Simplicity’, and with the on-going discussions being held on what the Scottish rural support system will look like post-Brexit." Mr Smith went on, “We are very pleased that the Crofting Commission has taken the initiative to have this research carried out under their remit to ‘promote the interests of crofting and to keep under review matters relating to crofting’ and they selected a very experienced and applied consultant to do the job. It demonstrates a proactive Commission that is willing to be more than just a regulator. We welcome this development of the government agency for crofting." Mr Smith concluded, “The report demonstrates what we have said for a long time, that adding crofting to a support mechanism designed for farms doesn’t work well; crofts are different and have unique challenges as well as offering exceptional public goods.