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No care for pensioner who broke back falling at home

Helen Neilson fractured several vertebrae in her back when she fell at home in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh City Council's social care system has come under attack after an 88-year-old woman with a fractured back was told there was no emergency care available.

Helen Neilson and her family say the delay shows that resources are overstretched and under pressure.

Mrs Neilson fell at home on December 1 last year and an x-ray revealed that she had fractured several vertebrae in her back.

Her daughter Karen, who lives near Forres in Moray, has had to temporarily move in with her in Edinburgh while they wait for a home care support package to be put in place.

Karen is also a carer for her 18-year-old son, Fraser, who has Down's syndrome.

Injured: Helen Neilson fractured her back in a fall.
Injured: Helen Neilson fractured her back in a fall. STV

She said: "My son is out of school for another week.

"He's transitioning into adult services up in Moray, so it's vital that he's back home.

"At the end of the day, mum is not a drain on resources, however because there's not been a care package in place with early intervention, her long-term prognosis of healing is taking a great deal longer for her, and that's causing a great deal of upset, which affects her mental health."

Mrs Neilson told STV News: "The council should really think about what they're doing and try to help people in this condition.

"I'm lucky - I have Karen - but there's many an old person sitting on their own with nobody, and they can't help themselves."

A spokeswoman for the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership said: "Reducing delays is a top priority for us all and we have undertaken a great deal of work to reduce the numbers of people delayed in the community and in Edinburgh hospitals awaiting packages of care.

Support: Mrs Neilson's daughter Karen.
Support: Mrs Neilson's daughter Karen. STV

"Last year the EIJB committed additional resources to improve, in particular, performance in terms of the number of people waiting on social care assessments in the community and, separately, the number of people waiting in hospital on care home placements.

"There are very encouraging signs on the impact this is having in these two areas and we are grateful to staff for their hard work in driving this forward and to the providers we have worked with to provide a better, more sustainable, deal for all involved.

"We have been working collaboratively with the care at home market to increase capacity and while some positive improvements have been evidenced in recent weeks, with an increasing population of older adults requiring support to remain in their own homes demand continues to outstrip capacity available.

"We are clear that this relates, at its root, to the recruitment and retention of staff in Edinburgh's labour market, particularly in the important role in care and we are working with care provider organisations to see how we can help them deliver in a more sustainable fashion in future.

"We are never complacent about the scale and extent of our challenges, but we are making progress in reducing the numbers of delays and will continue to prioritise this challenge and report on progress to the EIJB."

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