Missed visits, unchanged beds and concerns about the skill levels of staff feature in a damning Care Inspectorate report on a home care firm.
Independent Living Services Borders (ILS), which has a contract with the council, has been hit with a string of requirements by the watchdog’s inspectors.
They uncovered serious concerns after spending three days shadowing staff and gathering the views of service users, relatives and staff.
They heard from relatives that male staff had been sent to care for a women when this had specifically been requested not to happen, that visits could be up to an hour early, two hours late, cut short by more than 20 minutes, or did not even happen at all.
Inspectors Dave Hutchinson and Jane Brown were also told by relatives that a soiled bed had gone unchanged, that some staff failed to wear protective gloves, and that some appeared not to even know how to operate the necessary equipment.
They also found there had been a ‘unacceptable’ number of missed visits.
They said: “Missed visits can result in people not having access to medication, food or drink, and may mean people are unable to maintain personal hygiene.”
The issue of the length of time between doses of medication was raised by a relative concerned about situations when a morning visit was two hours late and the lunchtime visit was on time.
Another said that their family member was ‘petrified’ of strangers coming into their home, yet ILS sometimes sent staff they did not know.
Despite the concerns, the inspectors found that where care was being provided by a consistent, small team of staff, service users were very positive about the quality of support received.
In addition, following a highly-critical inspection report in February, Mr Hutchinson and Ms Brown found that a new manager had been put in post and that some improvements were taking place.
However, despite those improvements, the service was graded ‘weak’ in three areas.
An ILS (Scotland) spokesperson said: “We have been working with the Care Inspectorate and with Scottish Borders Council to deliver the best possible services in the Borders for those people we look after in their own homes.
“As well as our enhanced staff team appointed in the Borders office, we have also introduced electronic call monitoring and in the last month we haven’t reported any missed calls.”
A spokesperson for the council added: “SBC commissions the services of ILS through a contract and, as such, works closely with their senior management team and their director to address issues of quality and compliance.”
He added that the council was ‘working closely’ with ILS on their agreed action plan. The firm works for the council in Peebles, Selkirk and the central Borders.