MSP warns Edinburgh ‘in grip’ of care service meltdown

Close Up Of Senior Woman Sitting In Chair Holding Walking Cane
Close Up Of Senior Woman Sitting In Chair Holding Walking Cane
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The Capital remains “in the grip of a social care crisis” after only three of 17 recommendations have made ‘good or reasonable progress’ one year after a damning report into the service.

An action plan will be drawn up as inspectors highlighted it is “still not uncommon for large numbers of older people to wait for lengthy periods before getting support” – while “performance in important areas of service delivery had deteriorated”.

The Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership insisted that improvements have been made since the inspection, which took place in June and July of this year – but the situation has been labelled “truly distressing and worrying”.

Last year, the Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland published a joint report investigating how health and social work services are delivered for older people in Edinburgh.

Across nine quality indicators, the partnership was found to be adequate in four areas, weak in another four areas, while one area was labelled unsatisfactory.

A progress report investigating how 17 recommendations have been addressed has revealed that only “limited progress” has been made in 12 of the them, poor progress has been made to meet two others, two were classed as “reasonable” and only one progress report was labelled “good”.

Inspectors found the plans to tackle problems have been “reactive and short-term” and social care bosses were criticised for focusing on individual recommendations rather than “deliver an overall programme of improvement”. The report also highlighted that dementia care “has some way to go”.

Kezia Dugdale, Labour MSP for Edinburgh and the Lothians last night, said: “It’s deeply concerning that older people and their carers are still not receiving the support they need.

“Edinburgh is in the grip of a social care crisis, with delayed discharge stranding too many people in hospital, and the wages and terms and conditions for care workers suffering. Staff often have just 15 minutes to cook for and wash their clients.”

Ms Dugdale added: “It’s a truly distressing and worrying situation for many elderly vulnerable residents, and the only thing that could make a significant and immediate difference would be an injection of additional cash for social care from the SNP government.”

Social care bosses in the Capital are set to meet with inspectors to ensure improvements are made.

Since September, there has been a reduction in the number of Edinburgh residents delayed in hospital beds by 25 per cent and a reduction in waiting times for assessment in hospital from 40 to 16 days.

Since October, there has been a reduction in the number of Edinburgh residents delayed in hospital beds from 221 to 184 and those waiting for assessment has reduced from 1,616 to 1,328 – but targets have been consistently missed.

An action plan will be presented to the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (IJB) in February 2019.

Judith Proctor, who joined as chief officer of Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership in May, said she is confident more improvements will be made over the coming months.

She said: “We welcome the content of the review and are pleased that the report acknowledges the work undertaken to address the recommendations made following their 2016 inspection – although we recognise that clearly there is still work to do.

“We are committed to making the improvements required to ensure our services are delivered at the level they should be and will continue to work with the Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland in our action and improvement plans which we shall also report to the EIJB.”

She added: “The report is a fair snapshot of where the service was in Spring of this year. Since then, early signs of improvement are encouraging and suggest our plans and planning are going in the right direction. We fully expect to be in an improved position when the inspectors revisit next year.

“Whilst we’re beginning to see early signs of improvement we also need to be mindful of increased pressures on our services over winter. Our plans have taken this into account but we can’t be, and are never, complacent.”

Miles Briggs, Lothians MSP and Scottish Conservative health spokesman, criticised the partnership for not bringing forward a formal improvement plan until September 2017.

He added: “In Edinburgh there are undoubtedly huge challenges, such as the highest level of delayed discharge in Scotland, an ageing population and long waiting times. It is particularly worrying that the partnerships’ leadership is considered weak and are failing to communicate their vision for social care in the capital.

“From the report it is front line staff and managers who are keeping social care in Edinburgh afloat and coming up with innovative solutions for improving social care.”

He added: “Preventative care, as well intermediate care services to get people back on their feet after hospital, are crucial for letting people keep their independence and easing pressure on services.

“The continued squeezing of Edinburgh Council’s budget by SNP ministers forcing the partnership to try and make savings is yet another barrier to the partnership being able to deliver effective social care.

“It is incredibly concerning that waiting times have got so bad that patients who are considered critical are having to wait a long time before being given support. The social care crisis in Edinburgh is only going to get worse unless everyone works together across all levels of government to tackle this growing crisis.”