Care home providers suspended after bad Inspectorate reports

'¨Two firms providing care at home for older and vulnerable people in Edinburgh have been barred from taking on new clients after poor reports from inspectors.

The companies were contracted to deliver support services in thousands of homes across Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL

The companies are two of seven contracted by the city council to deliver vital support services in thousands of homes across the city. A third care company has said it was unable to take on any new clients needing support packages at present. The moves mean more people are likely to face longer waits for care packages when they are ready to leave hospital or have been identified as needing help to continue living independently.

The city council has not identified the two firms, which it has suspended from taking on new clients until the issues identified in Care Inspectorate reports have been resolved.

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However, two firms, Avenue Care Services, which covers the Almond district, and 1st Homecare, based in West Granton, have been scored “weak” in the crucial “care and support” category by the inspectorate in recent weeks. This rating usually leads to an automatic temporary suspension for firms from taking on new clients.

The inspectorates’ findings, based on unannounced visits, do not necessarily mean the general standard of care being provided has fallen below acceptable standards and is often linked to staffing issues. Temporary suspensions are often used to prevent over-stretched firms from taking on new clients until staffing issues are addressed.

The council has said it is committed to working with the firms to resolve the problems.

The latest meeting of the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board revealed the city is still in the grip of a crisis with 157 people delayed in hospital waiting for packages of care and places in care homes.

The board admitted the number of people whose discharge from hospital was delayed continued to exceed target levels. The main challenges are the lack of availability of care packages and of local authority funded care home places at the national contract rate. The board report also said infection had prevented admissions to certain care homes.

A scathing Care Inspectorate investigation in May last year into the quality of care provision found five out of nine factors of care were rated “unsatisfactory” or “weak” while the projected deficit for health and social care costs rose to £9 million in September.

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said: “This has all the hallmarks of a crisis in care.”