Assurances have been given that a new action plan for a beleaguered council-run care home will ensure improvements at the property continue “into the future”.
Mark Simpson, north manager of the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership (AHSCP), also told Banff and Buchan councillors that there are no immediate plans to relocate the services currently provided at Durnhythe Care Home.
He presented the action plan for the Portsoy facility which received damning criticism from inspectors when they carried out an unannounced assessment of the residential home in July.
The Care Inspectorate reported residents sitting in the dark, because staff had not thought to turn the lights on, saw residents “staring into space” or napping in public areas due to boredom and a lack of stimulation.
Although areas of good practice were identified, they were “compromised by significant weaknesses”, concluding that staff shortages were affecting the level of care and, worryingly, that medication was being wrongly administered.
In each of the five criteria, the home was rated as adequate or weak and had failed to improve in the wake of its poor 2018 inspection.
At the time, Mr Simpson vowed the service “can and will do better”.
He unveiled the action plan to councillors last week, explaining that the Care Inspectorate had agreed with its proposals.
Mr Simpson said: “After the Care Inspectorate voiced concerns, we gave Durnhythe a lot of external support so it has been disappointing it hasn’t been sustained.
“Issues raised in the report made it easy to blame things on the staff or lack of staff, but I don’t see that.
“I’m satisfied from professional advice that the staff to resident ratio was equal to or even more generous than other care homes.
“There’s nothing that should impact the care if the leadership is right. We can only apologise to the residents and their relatives – this is the recovery phase and then we will take on the improvement phase.”
He added: “We will continue to note the capacity until such time there’s an alternative – even if a new care home is built, the letting period is a minimum of five years.”
Councillors all had questions about the final sentence.
Glen Reynolds said: “I honestly don’t know why you included a reference to contemplating that in light there have been previous assurances for the people of Durnhythe that the home will remain. It sends alarming signals.”
Mr Simpson rebutted this and said: “In terms of the future of the property, we’re not actively looking for anything else.
“If there’s no capital investment, it’s a chicken and an egg situation as it could get to the stage it’s not possible to continue to use the building.
“But we’re not at that stage yet and the management will continue to learn from other care homes like Jarvis Court to improve.”
A follow-up inspection is anticipated next year.