Council chiefs apologise for Mabel McGuire care

Mabel McGuire's son says his mum is now much more cheerful. Inset, our front page story. Picture: Lesley Martin
Mabel McGuire's son says his mum is now much more cheerful. Inset, our front page story. Picture: Lesley Martin
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COUNCIL health chiefs have apologised to the family of a frail 93-year-old who was being washed, changed and put to bed by her carers in just minutes.

We revealed how Mabel McGuire’s home care plan was more akin to an “F1 pit-stop”, with her 45-minute, twice-daily visits being curtailed to little over five minutes on some occasions.

Senior social care managers have now said sorry by letter to her son Peter, 57, and a face-to-face meeting with bosses has also been arranged.

Council health and social care convener Ricky Henderson has also requested a report be compiled on the matter and the wider issue of the local authority’s provision of home care services.

Since the News highlighted Mabel’s case with council chiefs, time-sheets show carers are now spending upwards of 30 minutes on each visit to her Pleasance home.

Last night, her delighted son Peter McGuire thanked the Evening News for highlighting his mum’s case.

He said: “The level of care she receives is totally different altogether. The carers now spend over half an hour with her each time and she is a lot better in herself as a result.

“She’s more cheery and is a lot more settled throughout the day.”

He added: “I look forward to meeting with social work managers and hearing what they have to say. I don’t blame the carers because they have a heavy workload. What’s needed is for the system to be overhauled so that they’re not just rushing in and out of people’s homes.” Mabel’s flying visits were so quick they were likened to the pit stops you get in motorsports.

Her twice daily visits were both supposed to last three quarters of an hour, but she was lucky if her carers were staying beyond ten minutes to perform a range of tasks.

One time-sheet – filled in during a July 7 visit – shows carers arrived at her home at 7.58pm and left just seven minutes later at 8.05pm. It reads: “Assisted Mabel into nightclothes, cream applied, pad changed, personal care given, transferred into bed, light off.”

Another – from July 17 – lasted just five minutes. It says: “Assisted Mabel through to the bedroom, pad changed, freshen up, nightdress on, cream applied.”

Councillor Ricky Henderson said our revelations have forced a review of the way home care is met. He said: “I have been assured that an apology has been given to this lady, and senior managers are also to meet with the family. Officers have also provided me with information about what kind of care visits are now being carried out.

“We need to achieve the right balance between providing home care services and the workload of carers.

“I have a great deal of concern in regards 15-minute visits and the level of care provided, and that is why I have asked for a report to be compiled.”

Mabel’s story struck a chord with readers, who flooded our switchboard to tell of similar experiences. One carer – who did not wish to be named – told us: “This is such a common pattern and it’s not just happening to this dear old lady – it’s happening everywhere. All of the other carers I work with agree we want to spend more time with people we look after. But bad management, cuts and penny pinching has put paid to that effectively. We rush from appointment to appointment leaving vulnerable people crying in our wake at the shoddy treatment they’re receiving.”

Union leaders believe that a review of the system would benefit both patients and carers alike.

As of April, there are 4130 people receiving home care services from the city at a cost of £46.7 million annually.

The council employs approximately 1100 carers and delivers 25 per cent of the home care service across the city.

Unison Edinburgh branch secretary, Andrew Barnett, said: “Resources are getting more and more stretched and Edinburgh council are continually looking to do more with less, which in turn puts strain upon our members. We agree that pit stop visits are not enough to provide even the basics and would welcome the system being reviewed.”

We revealed in November last year how Edinburgh is facing a population explosion over the next 20 years, with authorities warning services will be under immense strain as the city’s population swells to 600,000.

A report by the council said births are expected to outpace deaths by an average of 900 a year from 2010 to 2025, combining with annual migration of 4200 to Edinburgh. The two factors are expected to fuel a population boom far higher than expected.