A FORMER carer in a crisis-hit city care home has broken her silence to tell how the pressures of working there made her ill as elderly residents were left to suffer.
Christina Taylor, who was later put in charge of organising activities for residents at Pentland Hill Nursing Home, quit her job in October after six years.
She said chronic understaffing and mismanagement at the Bupa-run facility, which has been threatened with closure after an inspection uncovered substandard care, left her with work-related stress.
According to the 59-year-old, residents would be left neglected for hours on end in seats as there was not enough staff, leading them to soil themselves if they needed the toilet or risk falls if they attempted to walk alone.
Ms Taylor took a job at the Corstorphine home – where the deaths of four residents are being probed by police – after her mum, Agnes Nisbet, became a resident.
She said: “When I started working there I realised what went on behind the scenes and it deteriorated over the years. By the end, it was so bad. I just had to leave.”
She said that over the six years she worked under seven managers, that staff members would be left to work without basic equipment such as gloves, and that bosses put profit before residents, refusing to invest in a minibus for its Edinburgh homes to take residents on trips out, saying it would be too expensive.
“There was never enough staff,” she said. “There would be good nurses pleading for more, but they were ignored. You would have residents who wanted to get up and walk, but would be in danger of falling. They should have been helped and assisted, but because there wasn’t enough staff they would just be told ‘sit down’ because no-one had the time.
“That’s how you get falls. You would have people asking to go to the toilet, but they would be told they couldn’t go because the member of staff was serving lunch. The pressure of working in a place like that for staff was terrible. It was an accident waiting to happen – and it has happened.”
The Care Inspectorate last week said that, while it had seen evidence of improvement at the home since the summer, more needed to be done. A deadline was extended into the new year, however Ms Taylor said she believed the home had run out of chances.
“If that had been a small, independent home it would have been closed months ago, I have no doubt,” she added. “But Bupa has a lot of clout, and if they did shut it, there would be 70-odd residents to find new places for.”
As well as Pentland Hill, restrictions on new admissions are in place at two other Bupa-run city care homes – Victoria Manor and Braid Hills – due to concerns over standards. The reduction in available places is contributing to a deepening bed-blocking crisis in city hospitals, adding to a shortage of care home capacity in the Capital.
Ms Taylor’s mother passed away at the home in 2010, where she had lived for three-and-a-half years.
In 2009, a carer was charged with assault following an incident that year, although she was found not guilty at a trial after claiming she acted in self-defence.
Vivienne Birch, director of partnerships, Bupa Care Services, said key staff “appreciate there is more to do”. She said: “The Care Inspectorate has seen improvements, while our residents and their families also tell us they are seeing a difference from all the changes. We are committed to making further improvements to raise standards even higher.”