Edinburgh care crisis: 'Stuck in hospital, my dad's mental health has taken a dip'

A daughter has told how her dad's two months of waiting to get out of hospital are taking a toll on his mental health.

By Ian Swanson
Friday, 5th November 2021, 4:55 am

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David Brunton, 82, from Kirkliston, is one of many older people across Edinburgh and the Lothians caught in the trap of delayed discharge.

Doctors say he is fit to leave hospital, but the care needed for him to live at home is not available.

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David Brunton is ready to go home from St John's Hospital, Livingston, but can't. Photograph: Ian Georgeson

His daughter, Donna Brunton, said he had been in hospital since April but had been told he was ready to go home about two months ago.

But he needs a package of care, which would involve visits by carers four times a day, and so far Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership (EHSPC) has been unable to provide it, meaning he has to remain at St John's Hospital, Livingston, even though it means taking up a bed which could be given to other patients.

Ms Brunton said: "I think his mental health has taken a real dip.

"He just wants to go home, even if it means he's on his own, at least he's in his own environment.

"It's horrendous seeing him like that and not being able to do much to help him."

There is currently a huge shortage of care workers in Edinburgh and across the country, blamed on a combination of Brexit, Covid and an exodus of staff following the pandemic.

It has led to elderly people who receive care in their own homes being sent letters warning they might have to rely on family and friends to help them because there not enough staff to maintain the service.

Ms Brunton said: "I understand that if there are no actual bodies on the ground to provide the care it's nigh on impossible for them to arrange it.

"If I could get him home and look after him myself I would do that, but I work full-time myself so that's not an option and I don't have any brothers or sisters.

"I work in welfare rights so I know how horrific the world is at the minute.

"I understand what they are saying, but for my dad, it doesn't change the situation."

Latest figures show in September 2021, there were 48,436 days spent in hospital across Scotland by people whose discharge was delayed.

Lothian Labour MSP Foysol Choudhury has taken up Mr Brunton's case and is pressing EHSCP to provide the necessary care as quickly as possible.

He said: “It is completely unacceptable that medically fit patients are having to stay in hospital as there are no packages of care to support them in their own homes, especially at a time when beds in hospitals are urgently needed for other patients. Delayed discharges mean fewer available inpatient beds, as well as delays elsewhere, including A&E.”

An EHSCP spokesperson said: “Unfortunately care-at-home providers across Scotland are facing an acutely difficult time just now with significant staffing pressures as well as a growing need for services.

“We are continuing to do everything possible to mitigate current challenges faced when supporting people to continue their rehabilitation at home. We would like to apologise to everyone who relies on services that are being affected and to assure them we are working extremely hard with our partners to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.”

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