A senior care supervisor has said she felt “physically sick” after witnessing abuse and neglect by staff towards vulnerable residents at an Aberdeen care home.
Lorna McEwan, a 35-year veteran of the care sector, resigned from her role at Kingswells Care Home after just five days following what she called the “appalling” treatment of dementia patients by staff of health provider Bon Accord Care.
It resulted in the 57-year-old becoming a whistleblower and raising numerous complaints with her employer and the Care Inspectorate before the Covid-19 lockdown hit.
Ms McEwan, who was being trained as a supervisor for the adult social care services provider at Kingswells Care Home, said her complaints were routinely ignored by Bon Accord Care and was left feeling she “was the one in the wrong”.
‘I can’t leave vulnerable people to be abused’
The senior care supervisor said: “It makes me angry just thinking about it what happened.
“I had to blow the whistle because it couldn’t go on – I can’t leave vulnerable people to be abused – it was just awful.
“But when I did raise the complaints, I was treated like I shouldn’t have said anything.
“It’s important that I speak out because Bon Accord care can’t keep doing what they’re doing. It bothered me then and it still bothers me today.”
Ms Ewan, who also consulted a lawyer about the situation, said she believes the routine neglect of patients resulted in one man, who died during the night, not being discovered until seven hours later the following morning.
She also claims Bon Accord Care home staff regularly filled in paperwork after the fact to conceal that they didn’t check on patients.
In response to Ms Ewan’s complaint, seen by the Press and Journal, Bon Accord Care described the incident as “evidence of poor practice, but not wilful misconduct”.
On one occasion, Ms Ewan said a worker physically stepped over an infirmed dementia sufferer who had fallen to the floor, rather than help them up.
She also reported fellow colleagues for addressing residents in an uncaring manner and for not respecting their dignity.
Ms Ewan added: “There was one occasion where a patient who was soaked in urine was pulled out of bed and I had to actually tell the staff member responsible to leave the room because she just escalated the whole situation.
“I asked where I could get a cloth to help this woman and was told to just put her back in bed with a clean nightie, which horrified me as, without a shower, it would result in them smelling and could burn their skin.”
Despite filing complaints with both Bon Accord Care and the Care Inspectorate, Ms Ewan says she was not informed of any action taken to remove staff or rectify the situation.
Investigation has now concluded
Bon Accord Care’s interim managing director, Gail Woodcock said: “Bon Accord Care takes any allegations of improper conduct extremely seriously and investigates complaints under our formal complaints policies.
“The matter was fully investigated by both Bon Accord Care and also by Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership under its Adult Support and Protection procedures, following a referral from the Care Inspectorate.
“The investigation is now concluded and the findings have been shared with the appropriate parties.”
A spokesperson for the Care Inspectorate said: “We are satisfied the issue raised in this complaint was appropriately referred to the local authority who carried out an investigation.
“We inspected the service in July and found the care experienced by residents to be good.”