Care worker is sacked and police probe continues at Tweedbank dementia unit

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a CARE worker at Craw Wood, the specialist home for dementia sufferers at Tweedbank, has been dismissed.

Four other staff remain suspended while operator the Eildon Housing Association continues its investigations into alleged incidents of physical and verbal abuse against residents.

But although Eildon claimed yesterday that the police had “finished their enquires” and will take no further action, this was later denied by the force.

“We are continuing an investigation into the provision of care services ... and our enquries are ongoing,” said a police spokesman.

Eildon’s chief executive Nile Istephan confirmed the sacked employee was not the one currently suspended for the alleged abuse of a 72-year-old female resident on Christmas Eve. That incident – reported to the family by another care worker – sparked the involvement of the police, and the deployment of Scottish Borders Council social work and NHS Borders staff at the 25-unit facility.

Elaine Winwood, the daughter of the 72-year-old, attended a meeting on Tuesday with senior representatives of all the agencies involved in the investigation.

“It was made clear that what was being discussed was confidential and assured things will change for the better in terms of staff levels and training,” said Ms Winwood. “That will depend on how long the council and NHS staff remain at Craw Wood.”

SBC’s head of social care Elaine Torrance told us: “We will continue to support the service over the coming weeks and continue to review and monitor the situation.”

The incident which has led to the sacking of the care worker is understood to have occurred before the watchdog Care Inspectorate (CI) carried out an unannounced inspection in November.

The ensuing report, published last week, sets out eight specific requirements and four recommendations to improve the service, the regulator having concluded the quality of care and support and the quality of staffing were “weak”.

The inspectors spoke to staff and the relatives of residents whose records were also examined.

CI inspector Sandra Thomson noted: “There had been a number of incidents since the last inspection [January, 2011] where actual or potential harm had been caused to residents by other residents. These had not [as required] been reported to the Care Inspectorate.

“A number of these incidents could be classed as adult protection issues, yet in most instances, no referral had been made or discussion taken place with the relevant social work or adult protection team.

“On some occasions only one incident report was completed when two residents were involved ... therefore not giving a true picture of the number of incidents. It was difficult to audit accident and incident records due to information being held in different places and not easy to access.”

Ms Thomson said a sample of care plans revealed information which had not been signed and dated, while some entries by staff were illegible.

“On the four days we visited ... there was a lack of activities happening in the home and residents spent a lot of time sitting in the lounge areas wandering the corridors. There was a minibus available for residents’ use, but little evidence of trips outside the home.”

On staffing, she observed: “Some staff had not received any training in working with people with dementia apart from during their induction period; others had watched a DVD about dementia awareness. Although some staff stated they had regular supervision with senior staff, others said they had not received supervision for some time ... some staff told us they had not attended a staff meeting for some time.”

Eildon, it is understood, was given three months to address the shortcomings, but Mr Istephan told us: “I can confirm that following a recent Care Inspectorate Report, we have submitted an improvement plan to the regulator and have already taken major steps to address the issues highlighted in the report.”

And he added: “Eildon is now completing its own investigation into the [three recently reported] allegations. Until our investigation is complete it would be wrong for us to make further comment.

“I can say, however, that we are acutely aware of the concern these issues may be causing to residents’ family members and we, along with SBC colleagues, have offered to meet with individuals to discuss these concerns at any time.”