CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Council care home loses pensioner suffering from dementia

We won't comment, ask our private contractors, say the Town Hall

15 March, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Wellesley Road Care Home

CAMDEN’S flagship care home lost one of its elderly residents for more than eight hours, with the dementia sufferer being traced only after a former neighbour spotted her by chance.

The case has led to questions about security at Wellesley Road Care Home, in Gospel Oak. “We are all shocked,” said a source at the home. “Imagine if it was one of your relatives.”

Despite the serious nature of the alert, ­Camden Council washed its hands of responsibility last night (Wednesday), with officials not prepared to comment.  Instead, they said all questions about the home and its operation should go to the private contractor it pays to run Wellesley Road.

The woman left the home, unaccompanied, at around midday on Tuesday.

A search party was formed, with CCTV footage revealing she had boarded a 24 bus.  By coincidence, a former neighbour spotted her close to her old home in  Camden Town. An insider at Wellesley Road, which looks after some of Camden’s most vulnerable pensioners, said: “We have poor door security and we have been warning management about it for years. The doors on the ground floor make it very easy for a resident to open, and to allow someone
else to leave. The doors need to be changed but they haven’t been and we think it is a cost issue.”

The source contacted the New Journal in frustration, hoping it would lead to a meaningful examination of this week’s sequence of events and possibly the introduction of a pin number code system for the doors.

Asked if the incident warranted more investigation by the council – which awards contracts to run its care homes – officials declined to comment.

The care home is run by Wales-based company Shaw Healthcare. According to an inspection by the Care Quality Commission in January it is rated “good” overall.  Shaw won a 30-year contract with Camden Council in a controversial deal brokered with the former Liberal Democrat and Conservative coalition which ran the council between 2006 and 2010. It was supported by Labour when the party returned to power in Camden.

The shake-up of care services saw the council shut and sell off care homes across the borough – including St Margaret’s and Branch Hill – while Shaw was contracted to build and run two new replacement homes, Maitland Park and Wellesley Road, both in Gospel Oak.

The company, which has clashed with unions over low staff pay, is run by chief executive Jeremy Nixey, a former Cardiff priest.

A company statement said: “One resident was let out by another at Wellesley Road. [She] was rapidly identified and triggered us contacting family members, the local safeguarding team and police. The resident was located and returned safely home.”

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