A report has found that staff at a Portsoy care home are less quick to care for patients with dementia because they are “less able to complain”.
The Care Inspectorate levelled the accusation at the council-run Durnhythe home in a report based on a unannounced check in February.
Inspectors talked with 15 residents who voiced concerns about staffing levels and also spoke to care workers who admitted that they would sometimes avoid treating people with dementia as a priority because they were less likely to complain about conditions.
As a result the home – which is run by Aberdeenshire Council – was rated “weak” in its quality of care, staffing and management, with only the quality of the building itself found to be adequate.
The local authority has now sent in an experienced manager to implement changes.
One resident told inspectors that opportunities to get involved in activities were “limited”, while another said: “You would think in a care home there would be someone to talk to.”
Another added: “[We] always feel we have to keep on top of things. Chase things up to make them happen.”
Staff, meanwhile, told the inspectorate that they were asked to make “difficult decisions every day about who to care for first”.
The report said: “We were very concerned to hear that people living with dementia sometimes had to wait longer as they were seen as less able to complain.
“People waited too long for assistance when they called for help. We heard the call system ring frequently and for long period of time.
“People who spent much of their day in the lounge, particularly people living with dementia, needed more support. We observed people becoming increasingly anxious and frustrated without it.”
Among the watchdog’s recommendations are a written plan for each resident and an arrangement to gauge staffing levels.
Last night, local councillors said they were concerned by the report.
John Cox said: “Clearly, staff are under a great deal of pressure and it begs the question why it took a further inspection to identify what is clearly a stressful environment not only for staff but residents and their families.
“Very alarming was the statement the quality of care planning was unsatisfactory and had the potential to put peoples health, safety and wellbeing at risk.”
Michael Roy added: “I trust that this is a short term problem and that the conditions in the Home return to normal as soon as possible.”
Mark Simpson, manager for the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said an experienced care home manager had been drafted in to oversee improvements.
“The wellbeing of our residents is of paramount importance and we are committed to ensuring that we provide great care to all of our residents,” he said.
“We have increased staffing levels on every shift to alleviate the pressure on staff and increase the level of care an support for residents.
“We are committed to service improvement and will work closely with the Care Inspectorate, residents, families and our staff team to rapidly deliver on that.”
A new manager will start at the home later this month.