Nursing home crimes probe

CONCERNS over the safety of residents at a Cumbernauld nursing home were dismissed by its manager this week after it emerged the building had been hit twice by criminals within six months.

On Tuesday, July 20 a bag belonging to a staff nurse in the Darroch Nursing Home in Seafar, Cumbernauld, was stolen through an open window.

Then on Tuesday, November 23, a member of staff, who has since been dismissed, reported to Strathclyde Police that she encountered two men in dark clothes and hooded tops, lurking in the corridors of the building.

But manager Ian Bell, who began working at the centre in July, says there should be no concern for the residents' safety.

He said: "Only one of these incidents, the bag theft, is actually confirmed to have happened. The other we can neither confirm or deny.

There's a certain vulnerability in all care homes but all staff know that they have lockers where they should put their personal belongings.

"We got the local Police Safety Officer to come to the home and give us a safety report and we are in the process of following up that advice. We've changed the windows so that they can only open so far and we are taking it very seriously."

Both incidents have similarities as each occurred between midnight and 2am on Tuesdays and witnesses reported seeing two males, dressed in dark clothing in each of the reports.

But Ian said: "We don't know if there's a pattern with the events.

"We can't confirm if the second incident even took place because only one member of staff claimed to have seen something and no one else did.

"We have four staff on the night shift and Seafar is an OK area.

"It's like anywhere else in central Scotland."

The Darroch Nursing Home caters for more than 40 residents who suffer from a range of disabilities including learning disabilities, physical disability and old age.

Ian stressed that he believes the residents are not at risk and that there is no need to worry unduly, given the evidence available.

He said: "People were talking about some drug addict or a man in dark clothes they had 'seen hanging around', but when we talk about these things, people tend to run away with themselves.

"One member of staff, who is no longer working with us, thinks she saw someone but we like to go by facts here.

"No-one else saw anything and nothing was touched or damaged.

"The dismissed member of staff was a night shift worker and the home is currently in the process of replacing her.

"Her dismissal was nothing to do with any of the incidents.

"It was an internal practice matter and totally unconnected."

Strathclyde Police said they were still investigating the incidents and the staff nurse's bag has yet to be recovered.

A spokesman said there was insufficient evidence to link the two reports, despite the surface similarities.

Any information should be passed to Strathclyde Police.