‘Left to rot’ scandal sparks social care services probe

Council health leader Ricky Henderson with ex carer Donald Nixon. Photo: Kate Chandler
Council health leader Ricky Henderson with ex carer Donald Nixon. Photo: Kate Chandler
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SOCIAL care services across the Capital are to be examined following the death of a pensioner who was allegedly “left to rot” in his home.

An investigation into the standard of care which was offered by Mears plc to John Gibson, who died at the Western General Hospital after he was found bleeding at home, is under way.

Following Mr Gibson’s death, the city’s health leader, Ricky Henderson, has called for a report on how the council monitors the quality of care at home services which it
purchases from private 

The move followed a meeting between Cllr Henderson and former Mears carer Donald Nixon, who provided care for Mr Gibson, 90, and his 87-year-old sister Thomasina, at their Bellevue home.

Cllr Henderson said: “I had a very helpful discussion with Donald and it was good to hear about his experiences first hand.

“We need to be as confident as we can be that the services the public is paying for and the vulnerable are receiving are appropriate and that companies are living up to the terms of their contract.”

Mr Nixon spoke out in the News last week, saying staff at Mears missed visits to vulnerable residents, on occasions failed to give them their medication and that workers were forced to spend a fraction of the time they should have done with the people who relied on them, due to an excessive workload.

It is alleged that the Gibsons were in an appalling physical condition and were living in a filthy home, despite receiving several visits a day from Mears carers.

Among the ideas Cllr Henderson and Mr Nixon discussed was the possibility of introducing co-operative care services in Edinburgh, which would see workers collectively own organisations.

Similar schemes in the north of England have been successful, resulting in lower staff turnover, and Cllr Henderson said they could be rolled out in the Capital alongside existing services.

“We already have contracts and the council is duty-bound to honour those contracts.
In many cases the services
will be fine,” Cllr Henderson added.

“But we could also create these social enterprise co-operatives where people have a stake and a connection with their companies. We would like to develop that idea.

“What we want is the best possible service and to make sure vulnerable people are getting the best possible care.”

Following the meeting, Mr Nixon, who has not sought or received any payment for speaking to the press, said he was pleased with some of the ideas discussed.

“It went well and he definitely listened to my concerns,” he said. “I think the idea of co-operatives was a good one. If it was your company in a way I think everybody would make sure they do a good job.”

At yesterday’s meeting of the council’s policy and strategy committee the scope of the new report was widened and will now include information on all adult social care services the council purchases.