Social work chief points to failings at Elsie Inglis home

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COUNCIL chiefs have said the absence of an external manager in the company which ran the crisis-hit Elsie Inglis nursing home appears to have played a “significant” part in the problems.

The 70-bed home in Abbeyhill was closed earlier this year following the death of a resident. Another resident died soon afterwards. A police investigation is continuing.

The manager of the home resigned with immediate effect after a damning inspection report in April.

It said residents were kept in “terrible” conditions, patients’ teeth had not been brushed, they had to sleep on stained and ripped mattresses and were even left to eat mashed potato with their fingers.

In May, 59-year-old Lynn Beveridge, who had Down’s Syndrome, died in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after taking ill at the home two days earlier. Other residents were transferred to alternative accommodation. A second resident, an 87-year-old man, died later the same month.

Only last year, the home in Spring Gardens had received a glowing report. But when inspectors returned in April, they judged every section of the home “unsatisfactory”, the lowest possible grade and one of the worst ever in Scotland.

Now, in a submission to the Scottish Parliament’s health committee, which is carrying out an inquiry into the regulation of care, Edinburgh’s chief social work officer, Michelle Miller, has commented directly on the problems at the Elsie Inglis home.

She said: “Experience suggests that the quality of care in a care home can change very quickly, for example if a manager leaves or is absent for a period of time. This is not always easy to identify.

“In the recent large-scale adult protection case in Edinburgh, it was the external manager who was absent, rather than the unit manager. The impact of this absence appears to have been significant, but not immediately visible.”

Ms Miller also said there were “substantial concerns” about the way regulation of the care system had worked up until now. She highlighted “inconsistencies” in the grades awarded across the country, a lack of availability of specialist advisers and a “cumbersome” legal framework which did not enable a quick response to an emergency.

Earlier this month, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon announced that all care homes will now be subject to an unannounced annual inspection.

It had previously been planned to move to a two-year gap between inspections for homes which received good reports.

Peacock Medicare Ltd, which ran the Elsie Inglis home, did not want to comment.

iswanson@edinburghnews.com