Care workers suspended as alleged abuse of dementia sufferer is probed

TWO care workers have been suspended following an allegation of physical and verbal abuse against an elderly female resident at a specialist home for dementia sufferers in Tweedbank.

An investigation has now been launched by the Eildon Housing Association which runs the 25-unit Craw Wood facility under its Care and Support wing.

And the police confirmed yesterday that they were looking into a report they had received from a member of the alleged victim’s family in relation to an incident at the home on Christmas Eve.

“We should make it clear that we are looking into a complaint against an individual and not Craw Wood itself,” said a police spokesperson.

TheSouthern was contacted this week by the alleged victim’s daughter who does not wish to be named to protect her mother’s identity.

“Last Wednesday, my brother received a phone call from a female member of the care staff at Craw Wood describing how, on Christmas Eve, she had entered my mother’s room and saw her being grabbed by another female care worker,” she told us.

“He was told that my mother had been physically pinned to her bed before being told: ‘F****** stay there, you c***’.

“When the witness said that this was unacceptable, she was apparently told by the perpetrator that she was not paid enough to deal with my mother’s behaviour.

“Our family was absolutely stunned that this could happen, although my two brothers and I, who visit mum regularly, have occasionally been concerned at the lack of staff cover.”

The family immediately contacted Eildon, Scottish Borders Council’s Social Work Department, the watchdog Care Inspectorate, which has an office in Galashiels, and the police.

The daughter attended a meeting at Eildon’s Selkirk headquarters on Friday where she met Eileen Shand, director of housing and care with Eildon Care and Support, and Craw Wood manager Louise Richardson.

“I was told that both care workers have been suspended and that an investigation was under way,” said the daughter. “It was explained that the member of staff who telephoned us had been suspended because she had gone straight to the family with her story rather than through the established whistleblowing protocol.

“I can only hope that Eildon’s investigation looks at why the care worker who contacted us was not confident enough to go through that protocol and it will be a disgrace if she is punished for her actions.”

The daughter revealed that when she contacted SBC’s social work department she was told that another (third) member of Craw Wood’s care staff had already been suspended in relation to an unrelated alleged incident of abuse against a resident.

Asked to comment yesterday, Eildon chief executive Neil Istephan, told us: “The Association has taken quick and decisive action following a reported concern.

“The Association is working with other agencies and relatives at this time and our paramount concern is the care and welfare of residents. In view of the ongoing investigation, it is not appropriate for us to comment further.”

The alleged victim of the abuse is a former nurse who became a resident at Craw Wood after her carer/husband died 15 months ago.

According to her daughter, the severity of her dementia has deteriorated in the last six months.

She told us: “Eildon is paid £563 a week for each resident at Craw Wood precisely because they are dealing with people whose behaviour can be challenging.

“It is an excellent facility; the food is good, the place is cosy and some of the staff are absolutely wonderful.

“My hope is that whoever treated my mother this way must never be allowed to work with vulnerable people ever again.”

A spokesman for the Care Inspectorate told us yesterday: “We are aware of this issue involving Eildon Housing Craw Wood.

“Both the local authority and the police are also aware and are investigating this matter, so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”