‘They deserve the best’: concern at report showing fall in standards at Dundee’s care homes

Standards in Dundee care homes fell last year and a prominent city councillor has expressed concern at the decline.

Helen Wright, Labour spokeswoman for social work and health, was commenting on the annual review of care home services for adults to be considered by her committee next week.

The report by social work director Alan Baird reveals only 42% of grades awarded by the Care Inspectorate to care homes in the city last year were in the higher categories of excellent, very good or good.

The previous year 63% of gradings were in the higher categories.

A total of 15 services were graded at the lowest levels — unsatisfactory or weak — for one or more of the key themes in 2011-12, an increase from eight the previous year.

Mr Baird said there was a change in the system of inspections in 2011-12, and the 42% figure was produced by a benchmark comparison with 2010-11.

He admitted the gradings for 2011-12 compared less favourably against those for 2010-11 for all key themes, with the exception of the quality of management and leadership.

The inspectorate placed improvement requirement notices on 21 services, covering a range of matters including care planning, risk assessment, wound care, manual handling practice and medical and infection control, and action plans were drawn up.

During 2011-12 there were 31 complaints to the inspectorate relating to 15 of the 31 care homes in the city.

Of these complaints, 29 were upheld and two partially upheld.

A total of 11 of the complaints related to two homes.

Mr Baird explained there is a joint commitment to continuous improvement by the care home providers, the Care Inspectorate and the social work department, and a range of processes are in place to support the improvement.

Of the 31 care homes in Dundee accommodating 859 people 26 are in private hands, with five run by the city council.

More than 780 residents are older people, while the others have learning and physical disabilities or have been placed because of community mental health, drug or alcohol issues.

Ms Wright, a former social work convener, said she was concerned at a report that suggested standards at care homes in Dundee were not as high as they should be.

”The elderly and other people in our care homes deserve the very best service in places where they can live with as much health, happiness and dignity as possible.

”They are the generation who fought in the war, brought in the National Health Service and fought for other benefits, like holiday pay, that are so important for people today.

”They deserve the best and we should be giving them the best as a lot of money goes into care homes to provide the services that are needed by the people who live there.”

She continued: ”If there are care homes in Dundee that are consistently falling below the standards they should be reaching, then this is something that should be acted on.

”At the meeting next week I will be asking if we as a council should be doing more than we are to ensure that the homes in the private sector are up to the proper standard.”

She exempted the five council-run care homes — Craigie, Turriff, Janet Brougham, Elmgrove and Menzieshill houses — from criticism.

SNP social work convener Ken Lynn did not respond to calls for him to comment on the report.