Aberdeen Man Wins Review Of Care Home Covert Medication

A Review of how covert medication is given to residents in care homes has been announced following an Aberdeen man’s campaign.

The Care Commission and Mental Welfare Commission are in discussions on the best way to work together to review the issue of how medicines are given to care home residents who may not have the capacity to consent.

Hunter Watson, of the city’s Burnieboozle Place, has been campaigning for a clampdown on the use of covert medication in care homes following the death of Portlethen woman Irene Duncan in a care home in 2002.

A letter from the Care Commission to Mr Watson in March this year confirmed that an “in-depth audit of the use of sedative medication” in care homes would take place in October, lasting around four months.

He later found out that the commission did not receive the necessary approval from its regulation management team and the audit did not go ahead.

Responding to an inquiry from Aberdeen South MP Anne Begg, the Care Commission confirmed in October that it was working with the Mental Welfare Commission to agree terms to work together and examine the issue of consent in giving medicines in care homes.

A spokesman for the Care Commission said: “We are working with the Mental Welfare Commission to explore a joint piece of work to examine the issues.

“This work will look to raise awareness, promote discussion, gather clear evidence and assess the exact scale of this issue.

“It is important this work is done to build up a clear picture but it is impossible to draw any conclusions until more work has been done.”

Mr Watson welcomed the news that the two bodies are working together to consider the issues he has been campaigning on for years.

He said: “The views of the Mental Welfare Commission and of the previous Scottish Executive were that guidelines would suffice to protect care residents from having potentially harmful drugs from being concealed in their food or drink.

“I disagree, and argue that care home residents should be able to enjoy their meals without worrying about what might be concealed in them.”

Public policy commissioner for Alzheimer Scotland Jan Killeen said: “Doctors who are prescribing medication must assess if the person has the capacity to consent.

“In many cases, doctors don’t go through the right process in the way that they should. We are very concerned about that and would welcome this move. It will help us find out what is actually happening rather than just use anecdotal stories about what is going on.”

The Scottish Government petitions committee has asked ministers to respond to Mr Watson’s queries about stopping covert medication.