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Inspectors slam soon-to-close care home over filthy rooms and health risks to residents

Craigard House in Ballater. Picture from Google Maps
Craigard House in Ballater. Picture from Google Maps

Inspectors have released a damning report into a soon-to-close Aberdeenshire care home, revealing none of the improvements they sought had been met.

The report says a lack of support from staff at Craigard House in Ballater meant residents risked losing weight, not getting their required medication and being unable to chat with their friends.

In both of the categories that were assessed – the support of people’s wellbeing and the condition of the setting – the home was rated unsatisfactory, the lowest rating on a six-part scale.

The closure of Craigard House was announced by owner Stephen Cowie earlier this month, just days before the Care Inspectorate’s deadline for improvements to be made.

In a letter to residents’ families, Mr Cowie said the home had become unviable due to the “continued, apparently unsurmountable issues” raised by the organisation and the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership.

It is understood the final resident will have moved out from the care home by the end of this week.

‘Failings’ listed by inspectors

The visit that produced the latest report was carried out after the announcement of the home’s closure, and critical references are made to the way the transition was being handled by staff.

It states: “Staff were not on hand to spend time with people to talk through their concerns. This meant that people remained anxious.

“We felt that people were not being supported with kindness and compassion.

“The staff were focused on a list of tasks in order to facilitate people moving. These tasks did not demonstrate how people should be supported to move with: compassion, dignity and respect.”

The closure also meant that improvements to the environment that had been planned – with new furniture and additional lighting ordered – were mostly cancelled, meaning “people continued to live in an environment that was unsatisfactory”.

The report criticises staff for not taking the time to sit and talk to residents, and said chairs were positioned too far apart to allow people to talk to their friends, meaning many spent long periods of time unoccupied.

One resident’s care plan described her as “a chatty lady who likes the company of others” – but the inspectors found her sitting far from other people and sleeping for much of the day.

‘People’s nails were dirty and uncut’: Inspectors criticise Aberdeenshire care home for fourth time this year

Risk of residents remaining ‘in pain or discomfort’

In another case highlighted by inspectors, one person had been prescribed a specialist cushion to prevent skin breakdown, but the same cushion was also being used by someone else – putting both at risk.

Inspectors also found that people who had a history of falls were at risk in shared areas, where they did not have access to call bells and staff were not present, and people who had lost weight were not given the necessary support with their meals.

In addition, the report says people were not offered their as required medication on some days due to inconsistent management, and that the easy accessibility of ointments in bedrooms meant there was a risk of residents accessing them and using them “inappropriately and unsafely”.

The report continues: “Staff did not appear to assess the impact an incident or accident had on people’s comfort and pain relieving medication was not always offered.

“When pain relieving medication had been administered after an accident staff did not follow up to assess the effectiveness.

“This meant that there was a risk of people remaining in pain or discomfort.”

Decision to close ‘regrettable’

Mr Cowie, the managing director of home operator Craigard Care, declined to comment last night, and referred to what he said about the closure issued last week.

At the time, he said: “As a result of the already well-publicised issues affecting the long-term viability of the entire care sector in Scotland (which are even more acute in rural areas such as Ballater) and due to the continued, apparently unsurmountable issues raised by both the CI and AHSCP, Craigard House Care Home rapidly shifted into the realms of non-viability, with no hope of recovery.

“All of our residents and their representatives, as well as the affected staff, have been informed of this regrettable decision.”

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