by Neil Bradbury
PARISH Constable Mike Jackson is hunting £4 million to update the Parish residential care home Maison St Brelade.
The home is owned and run by the Parish but admits elderly people from all over the Island and has been given full planning permission to update it's facilities.
At the moment it has 51 bedrooms plus several communal areas including toilets and bathrooms situated along the corridors.
The plan is to make every room en suite and the Parish is hoping to put the job out to tender as soon as possible, albeit several years after the idea to expand was first mooted. But it is estimated that it will cost around £5.5 million. The Parish has set aside £1.5m - mostly from bequests - and the Constable says he has approached the States with a view to them coming up with the remainder of the money. But the States, already committed to cutting rather than improving the Island's public services, have so far refused to make any contribution despite public acknowledgments that an increasingly ageing proportion of the population will need extra cash and care.
Said Constable Jackson: "At the moment we're proposing to get a bank loan for the extra £4 million but, ideally, we could get an interest-free loan from the States or, failing that, a loan at a reasonable interest rate being as we're providing a service that the States should be providing anyway. We could probably match the interest rate they're getting on their cash at the moment, which would probably be far less than a bank would charge us and there would be no cost to the public purse.
"Otherwise the home - it turns over about £1.4 million and made about £70,000 profit last year - would pay the interest and repayments and the Parish would underwrite the debt. I've been trying to get the cash out of the States but it's not been forthcoming. All they've suggested is that they'd give a States guarantee. But at the moment it looks as though they're not even prepared to do that.
"I do not intend to propose an increased rate in this economic climate to pay for this so I've got to find the funding elsewhere.
It's work that badly needs doing. The numbers of people there will stay the same but we will broaden the capacity for nursing care. It's not viable in this day and age to just have residential care. We've got to accommodate the needs of a society for enhanced nursing care because people are living longer. Also the rooms at the moment are too small."
The proposed work would have to be done in phases and involve an extension of the building for another 12 bedrooms.
"Other parishes have gone down the sheltered housing route and, if we can get this extension out of the way, I'd like to see us do that as well. We could build in the adjacent field that we bought some time ago."
The home, set back from Petite Route des Mielles, was built around 40 years ago for the elderly of the Parish with funds provided by the two daughters of TB Davis, of Howard Davis Park fame. It then accommodated 25 people. It was extended to take 50 people some years ago by the Parish with money borrowed from the States.
It costs around £30,000 a year to stay at Maison St Brelade which, says the Constable, "is a norm in care home terms".