Care home to close after inspection reveals “distressing conditions”

Muirhead Care Home, near Alford
Muirhead Care Home, near Alford

An Aberdeenshire care home has been told it will not be able to operate from the end of the month after residents were found tied to chairs with belts.

Those living at Muirhead care home near Alford were also not getting enough food.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court made an interim suspension order on Friday, pending a full hearing to consider the home’s formal closure.

The Care Inspectorate said residents would be moved to other homes where they would be looked after properly and that staff from Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership would be in Muirhead care home over the weekend, to help ensure residents were cared for.

The directors of the care home said they were “disappointed” by the court’s decision.

The home currently looks after 35 residents.

Karen Reid, Care Inspectorate chief executive, said: “Our last inspection found highly distressing conditions. We saw evidence of vulnerable people being tied to chairs with belts, which is extremely dangerous and unacceptable.

“Residents were not getting enough food. There were not enough staff on hand to help people who really needed support. Some people were not given essential medicines. We found a lack of appreciation as to why these things are so unacceptable.”

She added: “I welcome the sheriff court granting an interim suspension order preventing the care home operating after August 31, pending a full hearing.

“We have made referrals to nursing regulators and the police, and are working closely with Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership to support residents to move to other care homes where they will be cared for safely and with compassion.

“Most care in Scotland is good or better, but we will not hesitate to address unsatisfactory and weak care wherever we see it. Anyone with a concern can call us on 0345 6009527.”

Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, Scotland’s national charity for older people, also said the conditions were “appalling”.

He continued: “I can imagine just how angry the residents and their families must feel. The Care Inspectorate’s swift action could have saved lives.

“We urge Aberdeenshire’s Health and Social Care Partnership to move quickly and effectively, to ensure that all residents of Muirhead Care Home do not suffer any further stress, and are treated with the dignity, care and respect they deserve.

“We know that social care in Scotland is under considerable stress, with major workforce recruitment and retention problems causing considerable problems, and while there is a lot of excellent care available it is vital that no older person in Scotland is ever put at risk due to poor care standards such as in this instance.”

There were issues with staffing levels, training and experience at the Muirhead care home

The directors of the home said “strenuous and successful efforts” had been made to address concerns over patient care, health and safety, medication, training and management.

A statement added: “Over the next three weeks, after consultation with their families, the residents will be moved to other establishments in an orderly and sensitive manner, to minimise any distress.

“These arrangements will be made by the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership, with the full cooperation of the directors.

“The directors are naturally disappointed by the court’s decision, which comes after 30 years of providing successful care to hundreds of elderly people and enabling the majority of them to remain within their own community of Alford and the surrounding area when no longer able to live independently.

“The directors wish to thank their loyal staff as well as the relatives and friends of residents for their support over that period.”