Bed-ridden 91-year-old Edinburgh woman faced being abandoned unable to feed or wash herself

Vulnerable old people receiving care in their own homes are having it withdrawn because of staff shortages, a relative has claimed.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 4:45 pm

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

Karen Neilson said her bed-ridden, 91-year-old mother Helen Neilson was receiving visits from two carers four times a day, but the company contracted by the council to provide the care told her it would stop from tonight due to a lack of staff.

Mrs Neilson faced being abandoned in her East Craigs home, unable to feed or wash herself.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Helen Neilson, 91, has been receiving visits from carers four times a day

Karen, who lives in Morayshire, said she was stunned when she got the call on Monday and made repeated calls about the situation all week.

"The only option the council suggested was going into a care home, but there were no places available and mum’s wish is to die in her own home so she won’t go into a home.

"Her doctor phoned me this morning and their suggestion is she would be admitted to hospital, but they’re already at full capacity.”

After the Evening News asked the council to comment, Karen said she was promised care at home would be continued.

“I got a phone call at lunchtime from Edinburgh council to say they have miraculously found a care package – they didn’t know who was coming in, but someone would phone me and I’ve since heard from another woman who said somebody would be coming in tomorrow morning for my mum.”

Karen said she was relieved for her mother, but added that she knows from speaking to carers there are other people in a similar position.

“Mum’s situation has got a positive outcome because I’ve been able to shout, but there’s many more individuals who have been let down and who are being admitted to hospital and care homes.

“I’m worried because I know there are a lot of people who have been left and these are the most vulnerable people – they are living on their own, they have no family and they are not able to speak out. There are a substantial number, it’s not just one or two.

"Vulnerable people are being abused by the very organisations that are there to support them. It’s unethical, it’s immoral and it’s inhumane.”

A spokesperson for Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Unfortunately care at home providers across Scotland are facing an acutely difficult time just now with a growing demand and need for services combined with significant staffing pressures.

"This is an unprecedented, nationwide situation and one which we know is causing great concern.

“In Edinburgh we’re doing everything we can to mitigate the problem and make sure we’re looking after people that need our support most. We are working closely with individuals being supported and their families to identify alternative short term options in situations where previous arrangements are no longer available and plan to return to preferred support arrangements at the earliest possible opportunity.

“In addition, care at home providers are running an urgent recruitment drive to encourage and recruit new carers into the sector and to help deal with the staffing shortage.

“We would like to apologise to everyone who relies on our services that have been affected and to assure them we are working extremely hard with our partners to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.