A LACK of nursing home placements in the Highlands is putting pressure on hospitals meeting patient discharge targets.
NHS Highland’s performance for delayed discharges recently dropped to being the second worst in Scotland.
Much of the blame is due to the number of care homes being awarded reduced quality grades by the Care Inspectorate, leading to temporary suspensions by the health authority.
On top of that, Clachnaharry Care Home in Inverness was forced to close last month after being deemed unfit for purpose by the watchdog, resulting in 17 elderly and vulnerable residents being found alternative accommodation.
Its owners, RDS Healthcare, has meanwhile been issued an enforcement notice for another of its homes in the region.
The majority of the 29 residents at Marine House in Rosemarkie had been referred by NHS Highland, which has now suspended new referrals.
The Care Inspectorate said the company must demonstrate residents are not at risk of malnutrition and dehydration. It is also required to ensure the premises are wind and watertight and have adequate heating.
RDS Healthcare has been warned registration for the home will be cancelled unless it complies with a series of requirements.
The latest figures for NHS Highland show that, in November, eight people in the region were waiting over six weeks to be discharged, with 11 people over four weeks. There were 24 people waiting over 72 hours.
Simon Steer, the health authority’s head of community care integration, said the situation had improved since the introduction at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness of a new in-reach service to try to better manage discharges.
However, he said that care home availability had declined, adding: “The situation is particularly severe in the north of NHS Highland’s area, where there are currently no nursing home placements available.
“The issue of provision in Highland is extremely challenging and it is a credit to the work of staff that we are able to give people the appropriate care that they require as quickly as possible.”
An NHS Highland spokeswoman said that, in relation to Marine House, they were working with the provider but all new admissions were currently suspended.
No one from RDS Healthcare was available for comment.