Home care changes bring problems to Fife users

Mr Crombie says service is "a shambles." Pic by FPA
Mr Crombie says service is "a shambles." Pic by FPA

A new system for Fife’s home care service is leaving clients feeling vulnerable and with a loss of dignity.

That’s the claim made by some people receiving the service who contacted the Press to voice their concerns.

Kirkcaldy man Alexander Crombie has received twice daily visits for over two years after suffering two strokes. He relies on carers to help with meals, household chores and personal hygiene.

“It used to be a caring service but not now,” he said. “I used to have a regular carer who knew me; knew my personal needs and the sort of care that made my life more comfortable.”

However, since a new system was introduced in September, he says his life has, at times, become intolerable.

“Several mornings I’ve been left hours waiting for someone to come and prepare breakfast, and I get a different carer every time – it’s a shambles.”

He said the changes had led to a loss of personal dignity. “I had the same person helping me with having a shower but now I have a different person each time, I don’t want to get undressed in front of a stranger, so I’ve refused. I’ve not had a proper shower for two weeks.”

Claire Vivian (37) of Denfield Place, who has spina bifida, also has home care mornings and evenings. She also receives help from NHS Fife bowel care nurses who visit three times a week.

She claims that on “several occasions” in recent weeks she has been left sitting on her commode for over 90 minutes for carers, who are supposed to be there for a set time, to arrive.

“To be stuck on a commode waiting for someone to come and move you is horrendous,” she said. “It’s even worse when it’s a different carer each time.

“On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the bowel care nurses come around 9.40am and sit me on the commode – the home carers are supposed to come at 10.10am to get me off, showered and dressed, but on some days it can be after 11 when they eventually turn up and I never know who it is going to be. I complained and was told it would improve, but so far it hasn’t.”

Cindy Graham, home care service manager, said: “We understand that these services are an essential part of people’s lives and apologise if any of our service users experience delays or disruptions to their normal care packages.

“Unfortunately it’s not possible for the same members of staff to always attend and the carer who usually sees Mr Crombie is on holiday.

“We have already spoken to Ms Vivian and apologised for the incident on October 3. Unfortunately our carer was delayed with their previous client who has very complex needs and this meant they were late arriving. We know timing is crucial for the service Ms Vivian receives and we’ve agreed a communication plan to ensure she continues to receive the right service at the right time.

“It is coincidental that the new scheduling system has been implemented at this time. This system is programming 14,000 visits efficiently a week and shouldn’t have any impact on the service people receive.”