A power supply emergency at Dun Eisdean care home brought island authorities and individuals together in an ‘inspiring’ display of team-working, according to the chief officer of the Western Isles Integration Joint Board (IJB).

Mains power has just (Thursday February 28th) been restored to Dun Eisdean, after two weeks under emergency arrangements, while repair work was carried out at the Comhairle-run care home on Westview Terrace in Stornoway.

An instant response was needed on the night of Saturday February 16th, when it was discovered that a pipe had burst in the home’s external plant room, leaving the home temporarily without electricity or heating, according to IJB chief officer Dr Ron Culley.

Comhairle and fire service officers were quickly on scene, with the decision soon taken to disconnect the main power supply.

Western Isles group manager for Fire Scotland, Gavin Hammond, told welovestornoway.com: “We took a collaborative approach and everyone’s primary concern was the health, safety and well-being of the vulnerable people concerned. As the enforcing agency for fire safety we had to be content that the response measures in place were safe and adequate. We were involved in the incident for a number of hours throughout the weekend.”

Dr Culley was among representatives of the Comhairle, NHS Western Isles and the IJB who had to decide whether the 38 residents should be evacuated. He told welovestornoway.com: “As a general rule it’s not good to move elderly and vulnerable people from their home, and this is their home. We were keen to make sure the building could be restored to a safe condition and I was really pleased with how everyone mucked in to ensure the welfare of the residents.”

Arrangements to keep residents safe and comfortable were put in place throughout Sunday February 17th. Power supply was maintained by generators, and food supplied to residents from Western Isles Hospital.

Dr Culley said: “We tried to maintain communication with residents and families throughout Sunday – which is a busy time at the home as families are visiting. I’m sure that people noticed a few extra faces around the place as well.”

Teams of electricians, plumbers and other workers – from technical services at CnES and from local businesses – were on-site from Monday 18th, with a continuous process of work from then until late this week.

Dr Culley said: “Some of the parts we required were bespoke and had to be ordered from off-island, so the generators were running until the last couple of days.

"We’re now at the point where we have got back to normal from a supply point of view, although residents and families won’t notice any difference as the mains supply is restored.”

Dr Culley’s evaluation of the incident today (Friday March 1st) is that it has demonstrated the highest standards of co-operative working. He said: “Everyone, from the chief executive to carers and electricians, has pulled together. It’s really nice to see how this operates in circumstances that are less than ideal and, although we can always learn from these experiences, I have been really pleased with the team-working.

“Obviously, plans are already in play to replace these buildings with a new care campus out at Goathill, and the buildings are ready for modernisation. These two care homes have served us very well over the years, but now’s definitely the time.”