South Scotland

Melrose man's complaints over dying wife's care upheld

Woman's hands
Image caption The council agreed that the length of visit times by ILS staff was not adequate

A council has upheld a number of complaints from a Borders pensioner about the day care services provided for his dying wife.

David Jamieson, of Melrose, told carers to leave his home after they failed to wear protective clothing when treating critically-ill wife Elspeth.

After her death in December last year he made a series of complaints.

Three were upheld by Scottish Borders Council, and Independent Living Services has apologised to Mr Jamieson.

Mrs Jamieson had spent lengthy spells in hospital over a three-year period before she was discharged on 15 November last year and palliative home care arranged.

Selkirk-based Border Caring Services provided the service but ILS took over on 3 December without consultation with her husband.

Mr Jamieson, 67, said: "I did not need this hassle, nor did my wife.

"She did not say anything to the carers when they were in our house, but as soon as they left, she burst in tears and asked me not to let them back in.

"I said: 'What can I do?' - but eventually I told them not to come back.

"This should not happen in the last days of someone's life."

In a diary kept by Mr Jamieson he noted of the initial visit by ILS: "One carer was stinking of body odour and had artificial extended finger nails. No aprons were worn. Not acceptable."

He noted three visits of nine, 15 and 20 minutes on separate days and the continued failure to use protective clothing, culminating in Mr Jamieson banning ILS's daytime staff from his home on 8 December, claiming he was "disgusted" with their service.

Mr Jamieson praised the "highly professional" night-time carers of ILS but refused access to the daytime team.

Along with a neighbour, he then looked after his wife during the day until she died on 11 December.

Following an investigation, SBC agreed that Mr Jamieson should have been informed of a change of provider, that carers failed to wear protective clothing and the length of visit times by ILS staff was not adequate.

Actions identified

In a letter to Mr Jamieson, ILS service manager Karen Paterson apologised and said a member of staff was "withdrawn" following his complaint over hygiene.

She said ILS told the previous provider they were unable to deliver the same level of service due to extreme wintry weather at the time.

A council spokesman said: "A complaint was fully investigated about care provided during the period of severe weather earlier this year and we understand that ILS has written to the family concerned to apologise that several aspects of the care were not up to the standard they would expect.

"A number of actions have been identified following the complaint that will address these concerns and the council will ensure appropriate measures have been put in place and are monitored as part of the close contract monitoring arrangements."

Local councillor Carolyn Riddell-Carre, who took up Mr Jamieson's case, said: "It is terribly important that the care which is offered to vulnerable people is of the highest standard.

"I sincerely believe that the lessons learned from this episode will be of benefit to others in the Borders."

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