Peebles Nursing Home criticised by concerned families

FOLLOWING our article highlighting inspectors’ concerns about Peebles Nursing Home, exasperated families have come forward with their own stories.

The chief executive of Mansfield Care, which runs the home, said the findings were “regrettable but isolated and Peebles Care Home remains a high-performing and well-managed establishment”.

Now, however, a number of readers have shared their own concerns about the premises, alleging that a lack of staff is weakening the quality of care given to their family members. The readers’ letters are published at the end of this article.

One reads: “We are very angry that our relatives, and the staff who are trying to care for the residents under these stresses, are suffering.”

‘They need interaction with the people who love them’

Speaking to this newspaper on the condition of anonymity, one reader with a relative in the care home said there is no wellbeing co-ordinator at the establishment – despite the company’s website stating that “each Mansfield Care home has a wellbeing co-ordinator responsible for supporting residents with activities”.

The reader said the previous co-ordinator resigned and relatives were informed the vacant position would not be filled.

Because of this, the relative alleges there is now no-one who arranges video calls between relatives and residents of the home, which the reader says is worrying during the pandemic.

“They’re [residents] not getting what they desperately need which is contact with people who love them,” the reader said.

“[They’re] not getting any stimulus. They need interaction with the people who love them. You’ve obviously got the government restrictions but part of that is the home’s fault.”

The reader says short, weekly visits while wearing PPE are now beginning at the home.

According to the latest Scottish Government guidelines, up to six visitors from no more than two households can visit care homes outdoors.

Indoor visits by designated individuals are also permitted for up to four hours, as long as the care home has drawn up a plan to allow this to happen safely.

According to the reader, Mansfield Care’s chief executive Andrew Hume was contacted three weeks ago about setting up a plan, but there is currently nothing in place to allow indoor visits.

A letter sent in by another reader says that although staff are “really good”, they are “overworked, stressed, and woefully unsupported by management”.

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However, according to a reader, when this was brought up at a relatives’ meeting earlier this year, it was dismissed by senior management.

“There used to be regular relative meetings. The last one was in January or February,” the reader said.

“We expressed a mild concern that tried to express the problem [of understaffing] and we were told we were wrong.”

The reader added: “There is no way that the carers there are lazy. When they need new staff or new equipment the manager would say yes to us and the senior management would say no.”

A reader says that on one occasion a physiotherapist advised the home to invest in mobility equipment regularly available in NHS facilities, but senior management blocked it.

The reader revealed their relative had to sell their house to afford the £6,000-a-month fees for the care home.

Claims described as ‘unjustified and unfounded’

According to Mansfield Care’s financial report, the company recorded a pre-tax profit of more than £2.7 million in the year to March 31.

Peebles Nursing Home was inspected on September 17, September 29 and October 5.

According to the inspectors’ report, published on October 21, the letter of ‘Serious Concern’ was issued after the second unannounced visit.

Mr Hume said while he believes the claims in the relatives’ letters are unjustified and unfounded, he is happy to meet people individually or collectively to discuss and dispel their concerns.

He added: “We adopt an open and transparent policy, so we’d welcome the opportunity to have these issues fully aired and resolved.

“We are continuing to work with support of the Care Inspectorate, NHS Borders and Scottish Borders Health and Social Care Partnership who have advised that they are positive about the actions we have taken, and will further take, to maintain the high levels of quality that Peebles Care Home has enjoyed for a number of years.”

The letters submitted by concerned readers

All readers supplied the Peeblesshire News with their full names, addresses and contact numbers.

Letter 1

Thank you for your front page article [Peeblesshire News, October 30] highlighting worries about Peebles Nursing Home (PNH). The report you cite is just the tip of the iceberg. Senior management try to blame everyone but themselves for the problems. They blame staff when residents don’t get the support they need. They blame public services for closing down visits. They write to relatives telling them everything is fine when it’s not.

The fact is that Mansfield Care has deliberately created a business based on underspend.

They even boast of this in their annual reports, which are available for anyone to read at the Companies House website.

The most recent Mansfield financial report states shows that 30 per cent of turnover is profit. Many people who live in PNH have had to sell their homes to afford the fees. After three years that is all gone on the fees – but 30 per cent was just thrown away. Not spent on staff or equipment or decent food, but just gone into the directors’ pockets.

This chronic underspend creates stressful working conditions, made worse by the attitudes of senior management. The evidence is plain to see. Experienced long-serving staff are leaving. Our beloved relatives (mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends) sit day after day with no stimulus. Meals have become less appealing. Clothes are lost in the wash.

Rooms smell bad. Mental health and mood goes down. All of this is documented in the various reports by social services, public health and the Care Inspectorate. Yes the care staff are kind and caring. No they are not supported and there are too few of them.

During COVID times, what people living in PNH most desperately need is contact with their relatives and friends. The failings of Mansfield Care have meant that we have lost even the minimum contact that is allowed under government rules. Short visits, one per week, wearing PPE, are starting again this week but government rules have moved on and now permit relaxed indoor time with our relatives.

Not at PNH. Once again, Mansfield’s failures mean that our relatives are not getting what they most need. This is not ‘diligent’ effort by management. It is not an ‘isolated issue’. It is long-term, deliberate policy by Mansfield Care to treat ‘care’ as an opportunity to maximise profit for its owner.

Letter 2

Thank you for highlighting the grave concerns of relatives who have loved ones placed in Peebles Nursing Home. As one of those relatives, I am very grateful for the seriously committed intervention by the Care Inspectorate, NHS Borders and the Scottish Borders Health and Social Care Partnership over the last number of weeks ensuring Mansfield Care Homes (MCH) senior management, led by CEO Andrew Hume, rectify the chronic understaffing issues which are apparently historically endemic and not as Mr Hume commented in your article as being “a regrettable but isolated issue and that Peebles Nursing Home remains a high-performing and well-managed establishment.”

Mr Hume states “following further guidance and support, we have implemented a number of reviews of our systems which have led to the introduction of additional measures to enhance the running of the home such as around PPE, and visiting arrangements.” Mr Hume fails to mention that these issues stem from chronic understaffing policies implemented by MCH. Peebles Nursing Home staff are kind and caring, and it is an exceedingly poor reflection on MCH that three of their long-serving, highly skilled and respected staff members have recently resigned.

Mr Hume also fails to mention that the vacant post left by the excellent Wellbeing Coordinator’s devastating resignation is seemingly not going to be refilled, despite MCH’s website statement (3/10/20) that “each Mansfield Care Home has a Wellbeing Coordinator responsible for supporting residents with activities, whether arranged activities for everyone as a group, or individual interests and hobbies.”

Who is going to be responsible for the “exceptional resident-centered” emotional and mental wellbeing of our loved ones now, especially during continuing pandemic restrictions on relative visits?

Mansfield Care Homes reported a multi-million pound profit in 2019 claiming “we aim to keep costs as low as possible.” The highly expensive fees relatives entrustingly pay MCH for providing “exceptional resident-centred care, dining and facilities” is not reflected in the quality of care. It cannot be that Mansfield Care Homes (Est. 2005) which, as quoted from their website, “specialise(s) in small care homes offering care of exceptional quality (which is) geared to residents’ needs and wishes” is able to operate at least one of their 11 care homes at the detrimental expense of their overworked skeleton staff, the resulting under-cared-for residents and the relatives worried about their loved ones’ safety and wellbeing. I remain deeply concerned.

Letter 3

Peebles Care Home should be a Nursing Home the community is proud of, and somewhere you would be confident sending your relative for their latter years, knowing they will be in the best care possible. Sadly, it is falling very short of the sort of care we would expect, and that Mansfield Care itself promises.

Since the experienced and dedicated Manager left last Christmas, standards have dropped and attention to detail is missing, to the point that good staff are leaving – three of the most experienced in recent weeks. Many of the staff are very good and really care about the residents but are they overworked, stressed, and woefully unsupported by management. This is not about the current pandemic causing operational issues. It is about the lack of interest and lack of responsibility by Mansfield Care itself for many months.

Staff shortages mean existing staff are re-deployed covering other tasks causing residents to miss out on vital interaction, communication, dedicated time and there is a real impact on their well-being. This is doubly important that the residents have this time with good caring staff just now as they are already missing out on quality time with relatives. Normal homely comforting details are missed and communication is lacking. It’s always a heartbreaking decision to move a relative to a care home. Mansfield Care promises much but delivers the bare minimum in order to maximise profit. Peebles Care Home is a cause for concern and is not providing the service it should to the local community. The fact that the Care Inspectorate, NHS and Social Services are all now involved is telling and we hope improvement is swift, but the CEO Mr Hume needs to stop massaging the truth, stop putting profit before welfare and stop dismissing these issues as a minor problem that has been sorted. They have not been sorted and we are very angry that our relatives, and the staff who are trying to care for the residents under these stresses, are suffering.

Letter 4

I was pleased to note that last week’s edition of your paper included a front page article about Peebles Nursing Home.

Your readers may well not have been aware of the activity going on in the Home over the last two months since the Care Inspectorate identified in August several areas of concern including lack of staffing. I am glad this issue has now been brought to the attention of the public. However, your article only tells part of the story.

Following complaints made about the Home to the CI in November 2019, a requirement was made that the “provider must ensure that there are enough staff available to deliver person-centred and responsive care and support to ensure the health, wellbeing and safety of users”.

At the CI inspection in August 2020 it was noted that this requirement had not been met. I bring this to your reader’s attention as a way of taking issue with Mr Hume’s quote in your article that his company believes “this has been a regrettable but isolated issue”. Unfortunately, despite the very high fees paid by the residents of the Home, and the rhetoric of the CEO Mr Hume, Mansfield Care appears to be a company that is primarily motivated by profit rather than by care, and certainly in respect of staffing the company has been running the Home on a shoestring.

The staff are a dedicated and hardworking group who do their best to provide good care under difficult circumstances. As a relative of a resident in the Home I cannot fault their efforts and it is an absolute disgrace that they find themselves so stretched in their work, due to chronic staff shortage, that they cannot deliver the quality care they know the vulnerable residents require.

Three excellent members of staff have left Peebles Nursing Home in recent weeks and I think it is time Mr Hume paid attention to the reasons for this, rather than giving platitudes to relatives about high staff turnover in the sector. His attitude is disrespectful and dishonest and I hope your readers will agree that it is not welcome in this community.

We expect individualised care for our relatives, indeed that is what Mansfield Care advertises, and what we were led to believe we were paying for. Unless more capital is made available to improve the conditions for residents and staff at the Home this will never be a reality.

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