Black Isle Cares was established in 2015 to support some of the more vulnerable members of our local community by providing services, addressing barriers and identifying local needs and working to address them through effective partnership working.
In 2016, Meals on Wheels was established. This is now a thriving service for clients across the Black Isle. Up to 3 times a week, 50 weeks of the year, our meals on wheels volunteers deliver around 80 meals across the Black Isle. Our thanks to Caring & Sharing Highland for the start-up grant and to Cairn Housing and the Robertson Trust who supported the expansion of this service.
Brian Devlin - Chairman of BIC writes:
"With sadness many of us remember the demise and subsequent closure of The Marine care home, the shortage of care at home provision was highlighted at the time. It was a terrible time for residents and their families.
BIC engaged in several community consultation days in 2015, asking for a list of priorities from the community for BIC to focus on. The list had 27 possible future tasks! The top few included providing care at home; establishing a meals on wheels service with befriending and enabling more intergenerational work with schools for young and older people.
The NHS home care service was seen as stretched, with a list of people who were still waiting to access care when NHS carers became available. We were also aware that there was an issue with delayed discharges from hospitals due to lack of home care provision.
Highland Home Carers (HHC) and and other agencies had been approached but they said that it was too much of a challenge to deliver a service due to lack of available carers on The Black Isle.
HHC agreed to trial a home care service on The Black Isle, via Self Directed Support if BIC identified possible carers.
In negotiations with HHC, the registered care provider, BIC was able to seek an enhanced rate of pay for carers.
Carers were to be employed by HHC and trained by them but would be supported by BIC. We were fortunate in identifying and interviewing some excellent local carers with a commitment to deliver person centred care.
BIC also rented office space within The Black Isle Leisure Centre for their own operations and to provide desk space for coordinators to manage local care teams in Culbokie, Rosemarkie, Fortrose, Avoch and Munlochy. From the outset HHC and BIC discussed the possibility of BIC potentially setting up its own care agency at some point in the future .With carers identified by BIC and recruited by HHC more home care was able to be delivered on The Black Isle. However, within a few months of HHC setting up care provision on The Black Isle, the NHS decided to move away from delivering home care. This was a surprise for us all as we had not expected this and the subsequent increased demand. We had envisaged a care service to complement the excellent work that NHS carers were already undertaking. During this time BIC volunteer Trustees, started to set up a Meals on Wheels service. Black Isle Cares now has over 35 volunteers who regularly give their time to support the service.Volunteers deliver nutritious 2 course meals , to Culbokie, Munlochy, Avoch, Killen, Rosemarkie and Fortrose, up to 3 times a week. Meals are provided by local cafes and restaurants and clients pay a charge.As well as the food, there is the company. BIC volunteers typically spend time chatting to the old people. For some people a BIC volunteer may be the sole person they’ll have seen all day. As we’ve grown Meals on Wheels has changed. While it started off as a food based project it has evolved into a befriending project, with the meal as the focus. Alongside Meals on Wheels, volunteers organise an Intergenerational Games afternoon during term times at Fortrose Library. This is a joint venture with the Library and Fortrose Academy students and staff. The students play board games with older people and others from the community, with refreshments and craic.The students and BIC volunteers also ensure that older people and students enjoy an intergenerational lunch event, several times each year. The children from Fortrose Pre School, join us for entertainment and it is always a joyous time.BIC volunteers trialled a successful 6 week Intergeneration choir at the end of 2019 and they were invited to sing at the Fortrose Academy Christmas concert.One important, but often overlooked aspect of BIC’s role is to advocate for better services for older people. We started with the closure of the Marine, but soon we will have another Care Home, Parklands.In the face of great opposition from The Highland Council planning department as well as local opposing voices, BIC knew that a care home was desired and needed on the Black Isle. We mobilised, and organised. We wrote letters of support and our Chairperson, Brian Devlin, chaired an open meeting which demonstrated the overwhelming support of local residents for Parklands to be allowed to go ahead. Eventually we succeeded with courageous councillors overturning the planning officers’ recommendation; and Parklands is on its way to construction."