A string of complaints have been upheld against a Highland care home after the death of a 91-year-old man who was attacked by a fellow dementia sufferer.
The family of Black Isle pensioner John Taylor said last night they felt “vindicated” by the results of a Care Inspectorate investigation into the Meallmore Lodge facility on the outskirts of Inverness.
Bosses at the home have been issued with 14 recommendations for change – and five “requirements” which must be implemented within a month.
Two probes were launched by the regulator after the Press and Journal revealed in November that Mr Taylor had been found dead with nine injuries to his head.
He died of a blood clot within minutes of an assault by another resident.
The incident happened in the care home’s dining room in front of seven other residents – but no staff.
Mr Taylor’s family lodged a complaint, demanding answers over staffing levels and supervision.
After an inquiry into their concerns, the Press and Journal can reveal today that the inspectors have upheld all four complaints.
They relate to a “failure” to protect a service user from assault, the lack of appropriate staffing levels and adequate deployment of carers in the home, as well as concerns that Mr Taylor was not given proper nutrition.
It was found that until the incident that led to Mr Taylor’s death on October 16 last year, it was “common practice” for residents to be unsupervised in the dining room area.
Last night, Mr Taylor’s son Ian, of Cromarty, said: “We are pleased to be vindicated, and that our original concerns were justified, about the levels of supervision of residents by the staff.”
In a separate report on the overall service given at the home, inspectors found “several areas of concern within the care, staffing and management” at the £900-a-week facility.
Officials from the Care Inspectorate visited the premises at Daviot on eight different days in December, January and February as they carried out a full inspection of the home, and the separate inquiry specifically relating to the family’s complaint.
The four key assessment areas – quality of care, environment, staffing and leadership – were all rated as “adequate”, the fourth highest of six grades, with praise being given about the manner of staff, as well as the recently upgraded accommodation and standard of meals.
However, the report also said: “We found several areas of concern in the care, staffing and management arrangements during this joint inspection.
“The majority of plans for improvement made by the service following the last inspection had not been implemented or had been implemented and not sustained.”
Care was rated “adequate” because the inspectors were satisfied with “changes to the management support arrangements”, and that the firm had been “actively taking steps to address areas of concerns highlighted through their own audit and during this inspection process”.
There are currently 85 people living in the care home, which is seven miles south of Inverness.
The Press and Journal previously reported that the Crown Office is not taking any action against the resident who assaulted Mr Taylor, with his family having been told it was because the attacker was suffering from dementia and because the pathologist could not directly link the death to the assault.
A Meallmore spokesman said: “Since the home was last inspected by the Care Inspectorate, we are pleased to have seen a number of our grades increase following improvements we have made.
“We are committed to making further improvements to ensure we meet our own high standards, as well as those outlined by the Care Inspectorate.
“New staff have been recruited, with internal process and training reviewed, and we continue to work with NHS Highland and other professionals to ensure we are providing the best care possible.
“We will continue to work with the Care Inspectorate and other relevant bodies, to ensure the recommendations of the regulator’s report, which we are already addressing, are carried out fully.”