Investigate Aberdeen’s care home crisis - MSP

Kevin Stewart has contacted Alex Neil with concerns about care home services. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Kevin Stewart has contacted Alex Neil with concerns about care home services. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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AN Aberdeen MSP today called for a Scottish government investigation into revelations that the city council is facing a backlog crisis of more than 60 vulnerable people waiting for care-at-home services.

• Kevin Stewart, SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, has called on the government to investigate

• Stewart called the figures “shocking and troubling”

A total of 66 elderly and disabled people in the city, assessed as requiring essential care, are still on the council’s waiting list.

And it has been revealed that Valerie Watts, the council’s chief executive, had to personally intervene to ensure a disabled pensioner received care from the local authority after worried family members contacted their local councillors to express serious concerns about the welfare of their relative.

Today Kevin Stewart, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, said he had written Alex Neil, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, calling on the Scottish Government to investigate Aberdeen’s care services before the backlog crisis turns into a tragedy.

Mr Stewart said one of his constituents had been left for weeks receiving only one meal a day and water from representatives of her local church.

Referring to the backlog of cases, Mr Stewart said: “These figures are shocking and troubling - for 66 vulnerable people to be left without the care that they have been assessed as needing is mind boggling. Without this care these people will often be left in a very precarious and potentially tragic situation.”

He claimed: “Sadly the council does not seem to be taking enough action to resolve the waiting list problem and if they leave it too long it could be too late for some of these folk. My colleague Councillor Jim Kiddie has been raising this issue within the council, including calling for a summit, however this was rejected by the administration.”

He continued: “I have called on the Scottish Government to investigate this matter and take what action it can to resolve the care crisis in Aberdeen. I have also asked for the Scottish Government to look at how this occurred and what can be done to prevent it in the future.

“I am deeply troubled that vulnerable constituents are being left without basic care. It is below the standard of human dignity. The council administration must take action right now to resolve this crisis before it turns into a tragedy.”

He added: “In one case where I had personal involvement to get action from the city council, an elderly and disabled woman was left without any care at all without a date when care might be given. My constituent only received one meal day and some water because her local church were helping her, without the church providing a meal a day she would have had nothing.

“My constituent was not alone. Sixty-five other people are in the same situation where Aberdeen City Council is not living up to its statutory duty to provide care. It is my understanding that this problem started in June 2012 and there has been little action from the council to address the situation.”

A spokeswoman Aberdeen City Council said: “The city council is well aware of the current pressures on home-care services. The situation has come about partly as a result of an increasing demand for care and partly as a result of a shortage of care staff experienced by private home care providers and the council.”

She continued: “We have made major efforts to direct our own resources to ensure care is provided to those most in need. Care is allocated on the basis of priority according to the level of need and we have been filling vacancies, as have the private home care providers, but recruiting and retaining care staff in a city with a high employment rate is challenging. There are 13 private agencies which provide most of the care and they are all seeking to recruit staff.

“Senior managers, meantime, have brought all the relevant agencies together to work out ways in which people’s home-care needs can be met. We are working in partnership with care providers, and other relevant agencies, including the DWP, the NHS and ACVO to look at ways of tackling the problem.”