Aberdeen dementia patient ‘had 106 carers’

A woman has claimed her husband, who had dementia, was given 106 different carers in a single year.

Jeanette Maitland said the constant stream of different faces sent by agencies working for Aberdeen’s social work department contravened her husband Ken’s basic human right to dignity.

Mr Maitland died from a dementia-related illness on 12 May aged 72.

Aberdeen City Council has pledged to look into the concerns his wife has raised.

Mrs Maitland told BBC Scotland she initially wrote down the names of her husband’s carers so that she could get to know them.

She added: “I just started taking note of the names so I could remember properly and put a face to the name.

“Then each time a new face came so I kept writing, writing, writing, until we’re here where we are today with 106 carers.”

Until Mr Maitland’s recent admission to hospital he was allocated two carers four times a day to help his wife look after him at home.

Intensely private

She was given the impression that care would be provided by a core group of about 10 staff. Instead, she faced a constant stream of new people which her husband found extremely unsettling.

Mrs Maitland added: “Anyone who knows anything at all about dementia will know that they live in fear 87% of the time. Obviously the more regular the voice, the more regular the regime, the constancy of it all helps them to relax and be calm.”

Although she has no complaints about the overall standard of care, Mrs Maitland said her husband was an intensely private man who would have been horrified at the number of people who were involved in his bathing and personal care.

She asked: “Where is respect for his dignity? I feel I should have sold tickets.”

Prof June Andrews, director of Stirling University’s Dementia Centre, said what happened to Mr Maitland was simply “bad care”.

She told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “It is absolutely not acceptable because of the kind of disruption that is caused to people with dementia if they are faced with too many people.

“This is something that not only happens at home in people’s houses, but also in hospitals.

“Familiarity helps reduce the symptoms of dementia, and if you are supposed to be looking after someone with dementia then presenting them with a lot of different faces is just bad care.”

A spokeswoman for the Alzheimer Scotland charity said no-one should have to go through the experience that Mr and Mrs Maitland had faced.

The spokeswoman added: “Unjustifiably frequent changes of support and care staff are simply not acceptable in any circumstance, particularly where dementia is concerned, and we must learn some very quick lessons from this terrible situation.”

Aberdeen City Council chief executive Valerie Watts said: “I would like to extend my sincere condolences to Mrs Maitland and her family following the sad loss of her husband Kenneth.

“I recently had a very positive meeting with Mrs Maitland where we spoke at length about the care package her husband received from Aberdeen City Council.

“I gave Mrs Maitland a personal assurance I would look into the concerns she raised and respond at the earliest opportunity.”

She added that council staff worked hard to deliver the best possible care package at all times.