Staff morale ‘low’ at under-fire Highland care home

A surprise inspection found staff morale was low at a Highland care home under fire over the death of a patient.

Rosemary Starr, 60, carried out an unannounced inspection of the Wyvis House Care Home in Dingwall in May 2009.

The visit came the month before 87-year-old resident Jamesina MacKenzie died from an infection caused by severe bed sores, which were ‘among the worst’ hospital staff had ever seen.

Before the home was bought by RDS Healthcare in January of that year, staff morale was found to be “generally low”, employees were “often tired” and the home was “not adequately staffed”, a fatal accident inquiry at Dingwall Sheriff Court heard on Wednesday.

Mrs Starr said that many of the problems were still at the home when she visited in April 2009.

She told the inquiry the inspection had been the result of a complaint “to do with the length of time for staff to respond to buzzers”.

She said: “There was an embargo on new admissions put in place by the social work department on advice from the Care Commission. It was an unusual step to take.

“There were concerns about morale of staff and the level of anxiety at the care home. People felt anxious about the level of care.

“The concerns were the similar to January, that employees were overworked and it was understaffed.”

The retired inspector said the embargo was instigated to “make a strong point to the providers about our levels of concerns about what was happening”.