‘Tragic death must have a lasting legacy’

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The tragic story of 90-year-old John Gibson and his elderly sister, Thomasina, has rightly put care for the elderly at the top of the agenda.

Since the Evening News first exposed the shocking conditions in which the pair were found, the issue has gone all the way to the Scottish Parliament.

Today, it is announced that the city council has ordered a report on how it monitors the quality of care-at-home services which it purchases from private companies.

This is an extremely positive move and health leader Ricky Henderson is to be commended for treating the wider problems in the home care sector, which this newspaper has also exposed, with the seriousness that they deserve.

He talks today of ensuring that companies are “living up to the terms of their contract” in caring for the most vulnerable in society.

The debate over whether services like home care for the elderly should be contracted out to private firms is one which will no doubt continue.

Co-operative care services is an interesting idea and may be worth exploring in the longer-term.

But, in the meantime, we must be confident that the level of care being provided – and paid for at great expense by taxpayers – is up to scratch and that the failings uncovered in this case are not more widespread.

Those trusted with looking after our senior citizens – and it must be pointed out that the vast majority are dedicated and caring professionals – must be subjected to proper scrutiny.

It is little comfort to grieving friends and relatives, but we can only hope the tragedy of Mr Gibson’s last days has a lasting legacy for the improvement of care services in the city.

Fire safety essential

three deaths in separate house fires in the Capital in less than a week is a truly grim toll.

But it is partly because such fatalities are becoming less common that we are so shocked by the events of recent days. The improvement in fire safety in the region in recent years is no accident. A lot of good work has been done by Lothian and Borders Fire Service to help people make their homes safer places to live.

These tragic deaths are a reminder though of just how dangerous fire can be and how quickly a smoke-filled house can become a death trap.

There is no better time for us all to heed firefighters’ advice – 0800 169 0320 is the number to call to arrange a free home safety check – and ensure we have working smoke alarms at home.