Care home threatened with closure amid neglect claims

posted 24 Jan 2009, 07:39 by South Edinburgh Net Admin   [ updated 24 Jan 2009, 07:42 ]
An Edinburgh care home has been threatened with closure amid allegations of staff shortages, neglect and residents only being allowed to use the toilet at set times.

Three nurses also claim to have been sacked by St Raphael's Care Home in the Grange after speaking up about the problems.

The home's operator, Viewpoint Housing Association, denies this, but the home has been hit with an enforcement order from the Care Commission which warns it will be closed down if "significant improvement" is not made.

The report by the Care Commission ordered management to prove everyone working there was suitably qualified, to train staff up on dealing with nutrition, care of wounds and infection control, and carry out disclosure checks on all workers.

The timeframe for these requirements ranged from 24 hours to six months.

The three dismissed staff claim they were hired towards the end of last year to help turn around the fortunes of the South Oswald Road home.

One, a professional nurse of more than 20 years, said: "We were brought in there to turn the place around, and we did that.

"When we arrived, we all agreed we had never seen anything like it. Clients had to wait to go to the toilet, and some of the bed sores they had were the worst we've ever seen.

"This place has been under scrutiny for some time.

"At the residents' meeting we said we didn't have faith in (some members of the senior management], and said that was the reason the place found itself in the position it was in.

"The next morning we were called in and sacked, and were told family members had complained we had turned the place into a 'mini-hospital'. It was just within our probation period, so they can do what they like.

"We're just worried now it will go back to the standards that were there before we arrived."

The notice from the Commission explained: "Unless there is a significant improvement in provision of the service, it (the Commission] intends to make a proposal to cancel your registration". Without that registration the home would be unable to operate.

Viewpoint's chief executive, Barbara Wilkinson, insisted the staff had been sacked following complaints from relatives, residents and fellow staff members.

She said: "Our priority is the care and wellbeing of our customers. We are working with our regulators towards improving standards in St Raphael's Care Home.

"Progress has been made in all the areas highlighted in the Care Commission's improvement notice. Much has been achieved since last October, which the inspection report relates to.

"Complaints were made by relatives, residents and staff regarding the conduct of the three members of staff who were working through their probationary periods. In view of this, it was decided that it was in the best interest of the service that the probation had been unsuccessful."

Lawrie Davidson, regional manager with the Care Commission, said: "This service has been a cause of concern to us, and as a result we have been working with it intensively in the past six months to help it achieve the required standards of care.

"We issued an improvement notice to the home in November, requiring it to make improvements in a number of areas. We also proposed a change in its registration to ensure a registered nurse is on duty at all times."

By Adam Morris

Source: Edinburgh Evening News