Care homes go under closer eye

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NEW moves to improve inspections of care homes in the wake of the Elsie Inglis case have been welcomed.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has announced that all care homes will now be subject to an unannounced annual inspection.

It comes four months after the closure of the privately run Elsie Inglis home in Abbeyhill after the death of a resident.

Police are still investigating the death in May of 59-year-old Lynn Beveridge and also that of an 87-year-old man who died the following week after being moved to a private home.

Ms Sturgeon said regulations would be introduced to specify the minimum frequency of inspections and that all inspections would be unannounced.

Concerns had been voiced about a planned move to a two-year gap between inspections if homes had had no complaints. Ms Sturgeon said the new regime was intended to ensure standards did not deteriorate between visits.

She also promised necessary resources would be put in place to support additional inspections and the budget for Social Care and Social Work Inspection Scotland – to be renamed the Care Inspectorate – would enable it to maintain current staffing levels.

Labour’s former health minister, Edinburgh Northern & Leith MSP Malcolm Chisholm welcomed the announcement, but asked Ms Sturgeon if she would ensure the views and experiences of residents were taken fully into account. Ms Sturgeon agreed to do so.

She said: “I think the changes I have announced strengthen an already strong system, but we should always keep these matters under review.”

Mr Chisholm said afterwards that Ms Sturgeon had moved a significant way, but there were still some questions that had to be resolved.

He said an inspection of the home at Abbeyhill as recently as last October said support and care was “good”.

“If there was such a fast decline, even an annual visit would not necessarily have captured that.”

Jim Eadie, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Southern, said: “The public need to have confidence that the system of regulation and inspection is robust and capable of identifying and addressing failures.”

City council health and social care convener Paul Edie said care homes were generally well run, but welcomed Ms Sturgeon’s announcement.

He said: “This is a really good move. This is people’s lives, these homes are where they live and we have to make sure the care they are getting is of the best quality possible.”

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