Care home firm creating 90 jobs in Edinburgh expansion

An artist's impression of Walker Healthcare's Cramond Residence, set to open in January. Picture: Contributed
An artist's impression of Walker Healthcare's Cramond Residence, set to open in January. Picture: Contributed
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A Scottish healthcare group is creating 90 jobs with the launch of its latest home in the capital.

Walker Healthcare – part of the James Walker Leith group, which has interests across sectors including construction and manufacturing – is opening the new care facility in ­Cramond in January.

The home is the latest in a string of investments in the independent care sector in Scotland, although it comes at a time when there are recruitment concerns being exacerbated by issues including the impact of Brexit.

• READ MORE: Recruitment crisis leaving care homes ‘on the breadline’

Another operator, Care UK, is opening a new facility in Portobello later this year and Musselburgh-based Renaissance Care has embarked on a multi-million-pound capital investment programme.

Walker Healthcare’s Cramond Residence home will include 74 en-suite bedrooms across nine separate houses with a focus on small community living. Recruitment is set to get underway for nurses, carers, catering, housekeeping, and other support staff.

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Walker Healthcare was established in 1995 as a ­division of Livingston-based James Walker Leith, which also includes businesses such as Dundas Estates and Walker Timber.

The healthcare arm operates facilities in Scotland including Ellen’s Glen community hospital in Edinburgh, which specialises in providing long-term mental health and palliative care, and Mearnskirk House in Newton Mearns.

Late last year Musselburgh-based Renaissance Care, which is owned by industry veteran and serial entrepreneur Robert Kilgour, said it was stepping up its investment after doubling in size over the past three years.

The firm said a capital investment programme of “several million pounds” was underway as it revealed turnover in its latest year would top £20 million. Renaissance Care employs around 800 staff across 12 care homes throughout Scotland.

• READ MORE: The Big Interview: care homes entrepreneur Robert Kilgour

Kilgour built up the Four Seasons Health Care business in the late 1980s and 1990s before stepping down in 1999, having created a UK-wide group with more than 100 care homes.

Earlier this month an independent care sector association warned that some care home operators in Scotland were “on the breadline” because of pay pressures and a recruitment crisis.

The Scottish Care association said closures were likely without remedial action. A survey found 79 per cent of homes were struggling to recruit nurses and 35 per cent struggled to find suitable managers. It also found average turnover of staff in care homes is 22 per cent, up from 17 per cent in 2015.

The report raised concerns over the impact on staffing from Brexit and found that some 44 per cent of care homes rely on recruiting from the EU. Chief executive Dr Donald Macaskill said the sector was struggling to recruit new staff and hold on to existing staff and highlighted a shortage of nurses.

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