AN investigation into the care offered to an elderly man found apparently “bleeding to death” in a “squalid” home has cleared the company responsible for looking after him of any wrongdoing.
John Gibson, 90, a former member of the Merchant Navy, died after he was rushed to hospital from his home in Claremont Bank, Bellevue, after a neighbour found him suffering an “extreme medical episode”.
Serious concerns over the standard of care offered to Mr Gibson, along with his 87-year-old sister, Thomasina, who shared the home, were raised due to their personal hygiene and living conditions – despite the couple receiving the maximum care package from Edinburgh City Council.
The authority launched a high-level probe, which also involved the Care Inspectorate and police, but findings released today said Mears Plc, the care company contracted by the council, could have done nothing to prevent the tragedy.
Ricky Henderson, the city’s health leader, said that while the Gibsons had not been neglected, their case had illustrated important questions.
He said: “This was very tragic for the Gibsons, but it doesn’t look like they were failed by any agency or service.
“But other issues have been highlighted which raise some interesting moral dilemmas about public policy and when the state should step in.”
The investigation found that while parts of the Gibsons’ home were in a “very, very poor state”, Mr Gibson had “house rules” and refused carers access to certain areas.
On the morning of September 18, a visiting carer became concerned about Mr Gibson’s health and attempted to assist him and call a doctor, but he refused both offers. After raising concerns with his managers, a doctor was called and another member of staff was sent to wait with the Gibsons.
When the GP arrived, at around noon, he called a non-emergency ambulance which he expected to arrive in two to three hours. It is believed that Mr Gibson’s condition deteriorated, before a neighbour saw him six hours later and made a 999 call.
It is understood that Mr Gibson’s medical condition had contributed to an unhygienic environment in parts of his home and the soiled clothing he and his sister were found in.
He was taken to the Western General Hospital, where he died on September 24. It is understood that Ms Gibson is now living in a care home.
Michelle Miller, the council’s chief social work officer, said: “People make choices about how they want to live. Fundamentally we have to respect that until the point comes that somebody doesn’t have capacity.
“We would prefer if people wanted all the help that we could offer them, but who am I to say they should live in the way I would choose to live?”
Edinburgh City Council and the Care Inspectorate received a number of complaints about Mears last summer, particularly relating to carers arriving late. A follow-up Care Inspectorate inspection in October found their services had improved.
Bernadette Walsh, chief operating officer for Mears, said: “We have given our full support to the investigation. We will continue to work with service users and the council so that we are consistently delivering high standards of care.”