Tweedbank care home must improve or face closure

A Government watchdog is threatening to close a Tweedbank care home for dementia sufferers unless it improves by the end of the month, writes Sandy Neil.

Craw Wood provides 24-hour care for older people with dementia, and currently houses 25 residents.

The Care Inspectorate (CI) inspects the £563-a-week, 25-bed unit facility twice a year, arriving on announced and unannounced visits. The CI then publishes a report, issuing grades on the home’s services, and any recommendations or requirements to be carried out before a deadline.

In a damning letter to Nile Istephan, chief executive of Selkirk-based Eildon Housing Association, which runs Craw Wood, the CI warned that “unless there is a significant improvement in provision of the service, it intends to make a proposal to cancel your registration”.

A spokesperson for the watchdog added: “If a service fails to make sufficient improvements within a reasonable timeframe, the Care Inspectorate is committed to using legally-enforceable orders to insist on changes, and has the power to apply to the courts to close a service where necessary.”

The improvements – which must be made before January 30 – include ensuring “all staff working in the care service have the qualifications, skills and experience necessary for the work they are to perform, receive appropriate training for the work they are to perform in the care service, and that you have in place an appropriate system to check their competency and learning needs”.

The CI also issued a deadline of November 2012 for Craw Wood to improve prescribing medication, and the nutrition and hydration of dementia sufferers. The home also has less than a fortnight to make sure all staff are trained and qualified.

The CI spokesperson added: “We continue to rigorously monitor the quality of care within the care home to ensure that the required improvements are being made and that the safety, wellbeing and needs of all residents are being met.”

In a statement, Mr Istephan responded: “Eildon Housing Association are working through the issues identified by the Care Inspectorate. We are committed to the provision of high-quality care for our residents and have been keeping in close contact with their families.”

Unless Craw Wood ticks off its recovery list, this could be the final chapter in a troubled period of the home’s history.

Early in January 2012, TheSouthern reported an alleged incident on Christmas Eve of verbal and physical abuse by a member of staff on a 72-year-old woman, Margaret Winwood: a former nurse who became a resident at Craw Wood after her carer/husband died 15 months earlier.

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.

Two care workers were suspended following the allegation of abuse against Margaret Winwood. Eildon later confirmed the number of suspended staff stood at five, following more allegations of residents being subjected to physical and verbal abuse.

As a result of the police investigation into the reported incidents, one careworker was sacked after allegedly being found to have used inappropriate language. The four other staff members who had been suspended on full pay had their suspensions lifted, and no charges were brought.

But in March 2012 the Care Inspectorate upheld five complaints levelled by Margaret Winwood’s daughter, Elaine, and as a result, inspectors gave Craw Wood the lowest gradings in its gift.

The home was officially branded “unsatisfactory” across three key criteria: the quality of care and support, the quality of the environment, and the quality of management and leadership.

This compares to the respective gradings of “weak”, “weak” and “adequate” which were issued after an inspection in November 2011, and they are in stark contrast to the “very good”, “very good” and “good” ratings given to Craw Wood four years ago.

Giving her analysis of Craw Wood’s latest crisis, Elaine Winwood told us: “I’m not surprised.

“They tried to re-educate staff, but once the trainers left, it just fell back to its old ways. It’s all about education, and if you have weak leadership not making sure everything’s going right, then it’s never going to change.”