MSP says whistle-stop care visits not uncommon

Mabel McGuire. Picture: Lesley Martin
Mabel McGuire. Picture: Lesley Martin
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WHISTLE-STOP visits that saw a frail 93-year-old washed, changed and put to bed by her carer in just seven minutes are not uncommon across the Capital, an MSP has said.

Labour Lothians member Sarah Boyack said tight council budgets had heaped pressure on care workers and called for the Scottish Government to intervene.

The News told yesterday how Mabel McGuire’s carers acted like an “F1 pit-stop crew” with her 45-minute twice daily visit curtailed to little over five minutes on some occasions.

Her son, Peter, hit out at the “inhuman” standard of care she was receiving at her 
Pleasance home.

Today, Ms Boyack said 
families should “not have to complain” before elderly relatives “get decent care” and called for proper accountability for council services.

She said: “The fact the Evening News has drawn attention to this case has led to an increase in the quality of service for Mabel McGuire, but the issue is not just about one family.

“We have seen more older and vulnerable people needing care at home but across the country, councils’ budgets are under pressure because of Scottish Government funding policies.

“This is not the first time the issue of the quality of care of frail and vulnerable people has been exposed as being 
unacceptable.

“We know that care staff are under pressure by the companies that employ them to rush from client to client and the danger is that vulnerable people will fall through the net.”

Family care organisations say professional care staff who fail to attend to an elderly service user for the allotted time were increasing the workload for relatives.

Simon Hodgson, director of Carers Scotland, said it was another factor “adding pressure to people’s loved ones”.

He said: “The son of this lady seems to be in a position where he’s having to negotiate and argue with service 
providers. If he’s having to spend his time complaining about what level of care his mother’s meant to be getting, that’s an added stress for him on top of what he’s having to do already. This is not an uncommon occurrence.”

Since the News highlighted Mabel’s case with council chiefs, timesheets show carers are now spending upwards of 20 minutes on each visit – although still well short of the 45 minutes she’s entitled to.

Sebastian Fischer, chief executive of Voices of Carers Across Lothian, said “If someone gets a care package of two times 45 minutes, who does the rest of the time during the day? That’s often their son in this case or several relatives in others.

“We are very much an organisation that supports family carers and argues for more intensive care packages being placed in people’s homes. A lot of family carers give up employment and have huge pressures placed on them.”