Shower of complaints going to ombudsman

Pictured, Isobel Adam of Walkerburn who's daughter Julie Bailey who cares for her in her home has had trouble with SHBC trying to get a wetroom fitted for her mother.
Pictured, Isobel Adam of Walkerburn who's daughter Julie Bailey who cares for her in her home has had trouble with SHBC trying to get a wetroom fitted for her mother.

A WALKERBURN woman is to launch a complaint with the Scottish Public Services Ombudman, despite earning an apology for a year-long dispute surrounding her elderly mother’s leaking shower.

Julie Baillie says she wants answers as to why her mum, Isobel Adam, 89, suffered almost 12 months of problems with adaptation works at their Scottish Borders Housing Association (SBHA) home.

Her complaint to the ombudsman will also criticise the social work department at Scottish Borders Council (SBC), which she believes should have initially recommended a wet room be installed in February 2011 rather than a shower.

SBHA and SBC have said sorry and promised a walk-in shower will be put in place, but Ms Baillie is still not happy.

She told TheSouthern: “It is all very well to apologise but this should have been sorted out in the first place.

“This has been a complete nightmare for us and a waste of public money.”

Ms Baillie, 43, says the adapted washing unit was fitted for her frail mum, who has to be washed by her daughter, on February 8 last year through Scottish Government funding, but issues were raised almost straight away.

As well as loose cabling, Ms Baillie cited continual leaking, which she says resulted in three showers being installed at an estimated total cost of about £1,000.

The leaks continued throughout 2011, eventually leading Ms Baillie to complain formally about SBHA and SBC’s handling of the case in December.

She added: “There was ample opportunity for them to hold their hands up, take the thing out and put in a wet room.

“My mum has got very upset about this and says ‘If it wasn’t for me you would not be having this hassle’. She shouldn’t have been treated like this and should be able to have a shower in comfort and safety.”

Julia Mulloy, chief executive of SBHA, issued a joint statement on behalf of her organisation and SBC. She said the demand for adaptation works “far outstrips” the funding available.

She told us: “Our colleagues in [SBC] social work have to prioritise works based on need, and as such, with limited resources, the association can often only carry out the most critical adaptation work in tenants’ homes and there is a significant waiting period experience by many clients.

“Following a recent review of Mrs Adam’s situation by SBC social work department, a wet room shower has been recommended and it has now been identified as a critical priority.

“Further contact is being made with Mrs Adam and we expect to complete the work by the end of March at the latest. In the interim, we will work with our colleagues in social work and to resolve any difficulties. With regards to the problems experienced with the original installation of the shower in February 2011, we are sorry that Mrs Adam and her family have had such a difficult experience.

“We have had to address a number of issues around the initial installation and design. Our installers and suppliers have sought to address these, however, it is expected that the new installation will fully resolve Mrs Adam’s concerns.”

Ms Baillie responded: “The wet room will be the fourth installation but my mum should have been a critical priority back in February last year - she has always needed to be physically showered.”