No answers from care home probe a year after death

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THE police inquiry into the death of a 59-year-old resident of an Edinburgh care home is still going on – a year after the tragic incident.

The Elsie Inglis nursing home in Abbeyhill closed following the death of Lynn Beveridge on May 18 last year, two days after she had been admitted to hospital.

Another resident, an 87-year-old man, also died soon afterwards, and several others were taken to hospital, leading to police and care regulators being called in.

A police spokeswoman said today: “Inquiries are still ongoing.”

Lothians Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale voiced concerns that the long-running police investigation was preventing a debate on the pay and conditions of staff in care homes.

She has now written to Lothian and Borders Chief Constable David Strang, asking how many officers are devoted to the investigation, whether he still hopes to take a case to the procurator fiscal and how much longer it might take.

She wrote: “Since the death of Lynn Beveridge, I’ve asked very simple questions about the employment conditions at Elsie Inglis, the degree to which staff were trained, the nature of their contracts and the wages they were paid.

“These questions remain unanswered because of the sensitivities around a live police inquiry, which I accept.

“However, I believe they are critical to understanding what went wrong at Elsie Inglis and it is in the public interest that they are released and discussed. The conditions, training and pay given to those who care for our most vulnerable citizens deserves public scrutiny and that has proven difficult in light of the ongoing inquiry.”

An inspection had given Elsie Inglis a good rating for quality of care and support in October 2010, but six months later – the month before the death of Ms Beveridge, who had Down’s syndrome – another inspection rated the home “unsatisfactory” and was so critical that the manager resigned.

The inspection report said patients were kept in “terrible” conditions and a number of staff were not properly trained. It found residents had to sleep on stained and ripped mattresses; patients were forced to eat stews with their fingers; health, food and medication charts were not filled in properly; residents had wounds and sores; and there had been 20 recorded outbreaks of infection during 2010.

In the wake of Ms Beveridge’s death, the Scottish Government reversed a reduction in the frequency of inspections, which could have left a gap of two years between inspections.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Quality compassionate care for older people that protects their dignity and independence is something that we must do well for every older person on every occasion, in any care setting.”

The Care Inspectorate said the Elsie Inglis home had voluntarily de-registered on October 28 last year. A spokesman said: “We are continuing to assist police with their ongoing inquiries.”