Care home bars son from visiting disabled mother

A FORMER city councillor has been banned from making solo visits to his elderly mother in a care home run by the beleaguered Southern Cross Healthcare company after complaining about her treatment.

Niall Walker, 52, said he is being penalised after asking a nurse to stop chatting and administer painkillers to his mother who was crying in pain from pressure sores.

Home managers, who claim he is disruptive, say Walker can now only be allowed on to the Glasgow premises if accompanied by a social worker or to take her out on trips if accompanied by another relative.

He has now lodged a complaint with the care home sector’s official regulatory body and has asked his local MSP, Patrick Harvie, and the health secretary Nicola Sturgeon to intervene.

Walker, who represented Glasgow Hillhead as a Lib Dem, then independent, councillor, for four years until 2007, said: “I have never been so upset in my life. I love my mother and have visited her every day for the past three-and-a-half years. Not being able to see her this past week is agony.”

Walker’s mother Agnes, 81, has been a resident at Clarence Court care home in Crow Road, half a mile from her son’s home in the city’s West End, since becoming profoundly disabled when a brain haemorrhage left her partially paralysed.

Before losing her health, Walker said his mother, who has a PhD in botany and worked at Kelvingrove Museum, had been an “inveterate traveller and socialite” who had written a book on herbal medicine.

Now a community councillor for Glasgow West End, Walker said that when he visited his mother at lunchtime on 2 February this year she had been pleading for painkillers.

“There wasn’t a nurse on the floor and other staff didn’t seem to notice or care. After a while they said they’d go and get one. We waited and waited and I eventually found one (a nurse] standing chatting to someone. I asked her quite firmly to come downstairs and help my mother.

“I was then told not to speak to staff and to get out of the building or the police would be called. I told them to go ahead. When the police came they said: ‘We shouldn’t have been called out to this.’?”

Walker, a former accountant, said he was then told he was banned from visiting his mother at meal times. The following day he contacted the Care Commission, which in April became Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland, (SCSWIS) asking it to mediate, but received no reply.

Three weeks ago, Wilson said, he visited his mother shortly before her evening meal, but was told he was not meant to be in the building. He says he was then summoned to a review meeting last week.

“I was told that I was extremely rude and insulting, had behavioural problems, screamed at staff and was eating my mother’s food at meal times.

“In fact, the staff had said to me on a couple of occasions there was extra food which would go in the bin and to help myself. There was no way I was stealing her food – that’s utterly ridiculous.

“As a result, I was banned from the home unless accompanied by a relative. I fundamentally don’t agree with the accusations of being a foul-mouthed yob verbally abusing staff.” He added that he had never been informed of the necessity of having a social worker present.

Lindsay Scott, of Age Scotland, said: “I have never heard of this sort of ban before and wonder what such very stupid conditions hope to achieve.

“If this man is indeed highly aggressive and a threat to staff then how would his behaviour be any different if accompanied by a social worker or relative? But what is also concerning here is what impact this sudden cessation of visits is having on his mother.”

Tracy McDonald, area manager for Southern Cross Healthcare, said: “Southern Cross Healthcare can confirm that Niall Walker is not permitted to enter Clarence Court Care Home in Glasgow, following a series of disruptive incidents. The company has acted in accordance with company policy and together with Glasgow Social Services, Strathclyde Police and Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS).

“The restriction does not prevent Mr Walker from seeing his mother, who is a resident at Clarence Court. He is permitted to enter the property under the supervision of a social worker, and may see his mother away from the property when accompanied by another family member.

“The health and wellbeing of our residents is always our number-one priority. The company has a duty of care to protect its residents and staff from abuse and intimidating behaviour.”

A spokesman for SCSWIS, said: “We can confirm that we have received a complaint from Mr Walker, but as this is being investigated it is inappropriate for us to comment further.”

The latest SCSWIS inspection report for Clarence Court, dated 9 May, 2011, describes the quality of care and support as “weak”.