Health officials investigate alleged 'abuse' at Midlothian care home devastated by covid-19 deaths
Public health officials are investigating alleged abuse at a Midlothian care home where nearly a third of residents died from covid-19 at the height of the pandemic.
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Health chiefs at Midlothian council are investigating a complaint of potential abuse at Springfield Bank home in Bonnyrigg after a watchdog ordered the home to report it.
Inspectors visited the home in May following a complaint report in March but they found managers had failed to escalate it as required, after two months.
Managers at the home have strenuously denied abuse but confirmed ‘one isolated incident’ has since been reported related to concerns about adult support and protection to Midlothian Council's social work department.
However, according to the Care Inspectorate there have been two complaints one in January and another in April – both upheld.
Details of the specific nature of the incidents are not clear and Midlothian council declined to confirm when investigations will be concluded.
The latest inspection report dated 27 May concluded that robust investigations had not been carried out by the April deadline, now extended to July.
Meanwhile, a further incident of concern over adult protection was raised in April.
It comes after eight complaints about the home were upheld by the watchdog in January 2021 for a number of issues, including inadequate healthcare and treatment and staff fitness concerns.
These were not assessed at the latest May inspection or in February when the home scored a ‘good’ rating of 4 for care during the pandemic.
The privately-run home which can accommodate up to 70 residents, was devastated by covid-19 after the deaths of 23 residents following an outbreak in April 2020.
Inspectors previously threatened the HC-One home with closure in 2018 over the standard of care provided to elderly residents and an improvement notice was served.
The home appeared to have “turned a corner” in July 2018 when inspectors heard from families that improvements had been made.
But it has since been faced with a string of complaints including inadequate care and treatment which has been repeatedly upheld by the Care Inspectorate on January 2019, November 2020 and again in January 2021.
The May report states: “We raised potential adult support and protection (ASP) concerns with the manager following our visit to the care service on 21 May 2021.
“The manager demonstrated a lack of understanding of the purpose of ASP reporting and the remit and responsibilities of the lead agency.”
The report also found the home had not addressed required improvements set out in November 2019 over care and support for people with specific health needs including pain, falls, moving and handling, nutrition.
Morag Barrow, the Joint Director of Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership said: “Specialist staff from the Health and Social Care Partnership are working with the private provider and the Care Inspectorate, to address the requirements made by the Care Inspectorate following a recent complaint investigation.
“We have full cooperation from the provider, and the staff within Springfield Bank Care home.
“Any allegations of abuse and adult protection concerns are fully investigated in line with Adult Support and Protection legislation.”
A spokesperson for the Care Inspectorate said: "In 2021 we have upheld two complaints about this service and published the requirements we have made and the areas of improvement we have identified following those upheld complaint investigations.”
"Where matters of concern are raised about potential adult support and protection matters we expect these to be referred to the relevant agency by the care provider, and we can and do check these processes on inspection.”
"We continue to work closely with the local health and social care partnership to support improvement in this care service. We continue to monitor the home closely and we will inspect again unannounced, as required, and report on our findings."
A spokesperson for the home said: “There has categorically been no abuse or harm which has occurred to any residents at this home.
“Our new home manager, supported by our senior team, has worked hard, along with the dedicated colleagues to make and sustain significant improvements. This has been evidenced by our rating of ‘good’ in our previous inspection earlier this year.
“We are working closely with all relevant authorities, and we expect that they will identify further improvements when they next visit the home.”