Dingwall care home owner probed over staffing

THE owner of Wyvis House Care Home at Dingwall agreed with a sheriff that record keeping at the home had “fallen apart”.

But Ashley Sham, director of RDS Healthcare Ltd which owns three homes in the Highlands including Wyvis House insisted that didn’t necessarily mean appropriate care wasn’t provided to patients.

Mr Sham was giving evidence at a fatal accident inquiry into the death of 87-year-old Jamesina Mackenzie in May of last year who died from an infection to bed sores.

Mr Sham’s company had taken over the business from the previous owners in April of 2009.

Mr Sham in his evidence to the inquiry claimed multi-agency support was not available and doctors had failed to answer calls to the home.

“Our staff did the best they could. The proper multi-disciplinary support was not there.

“I was aware from notes taken by our nurses that GPs were called out but they never came.

“In hospitals staff have doctors and specialists on site to deal with bed sores. No care home has that luxury. We did not have the support from multi-disciplinary agencies to enable us to provide effective care.”

The inquiry has heard how the retired vet, known as Minnie to her family, was moved to Invergordon Hospital after bedsores on her body became infected.

No records of a turning regime implemented to ease pressure on Miss Mackenzie as she lay in bed has ever been found.

On Tuesday Mr Sham said there was always a qualified nurse on duty at the home round the clock and during the day shifts there were two.

He said his company were aware of involvement of the Care Commission in the running of the home before RDS Healthcare took it over.

“It was in pretty bad shape. Our aim was to ensure the long term future for Wyvis House and its residents. In terms of viability he told RDS solicitor Niall Ramsay things “needed to change”.

Mr Ramsay said one letter had been sent to Charles Kennedy MP from Dr Denys Greenhow who told the inquiry nurses had complained following staff cuts after the takeover was having an effect on patient care.

There was a suggestion that qualified nurses had been cut from two to one.

But Mr Sham denied this. He said there was always one nurse on each of the two floors at the home during the day shifts and one at night which was the same as the previous regime.

Mr Sham said he had been searching “high and low” for staffing records and found a log book in a cupboard.

He read details from the log detailing what nurses were on duty and when.

Mr Sham said the hours of permanent staff were not reduced and shift patterns were changed. But hiring external staff was stopped.

He told the inquiry Highland Council social work department banned admissions to the home on the recommendation of the Care Commission while investigations were being carried out.

Sheriff Alasdair MacFadyen asked Mr Sham: “Do you accept the record keeping did fall apart?”

“Yes,” he replied. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean the care wasn’t given.”

Asked by Mr Ramsay if he felt the fact the home had too few staff had anything to do with Miss Mackenzie’s death Mr Sham replied, “No, not at all.”

He said staffing was now fully audited and checked on a monthly basis.