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Care workers claim 'unsafe practices' at Dunfermline hostel

Published: 27 May 2010 07:254 comments

FIVE West Fife care workers have come forward to highlight alleged "unsafe practices" at a homeless hostel.

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The employees, who have all worked at the James Bank Hostel, told the Press they were unhappy with some of their colleagues' behaviour which they said was "dangerous and illegal".

Their claims include:

Staff working under the influence of alcohol.

Staff smoking and dealing cannabis while at work.

Homeless residents being allowed to inject heroin on the premises.

One worker, who did not want to be named, said, "The unsafe practices in James Bank are totally ridiculous.

"It's out of control - full-time staff have been drinking alcohol on the shift, smoking marijuana on the shift and dealing on the shift.

"Service users are being left with people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and we've witnessed it."

An investigation took place earlier this year after a complaint was made about two staff members who were believed to be under the influence of alcohol.

Kingdom Housing Association, who operate the hostel, carried out the investigation and said "appropriate action" had been taken. They did not specify what this was.

The hostel, located in James Street next to the Kingsgate Shopping Centre, provides 33 rooms.

Twelve of the rooms are for overnight stays and are normally used by rough sleepers, which is where much of the issues have stemmed from.

There are seven full-time and six part-time staff at the hostel, as well as others who come and go.

The five workers, who visited the Press office last Thursday and wanted to remain anonymous, said rough sleepers were being allowed to book into rooms despite being drunk and that a blind-eye was turned to those injecting heroin in their rooms.

Another worker said two used-needle bins were in the building.

She added, "They've got two of them in there.

"People who've not got needles are going into these bins and taking dirty needles out and using them. It's been tipped upside down."

Another said, "They're allowed to jag in their rooms and are putting staff at risk from dirty needles.

"They're also allowed to come in under the influence of alcohol and all the rules say that is not allowed to happen."

They have also become concerned that vulnerable service users were not getting the help required to access services or secure their own outside accommodation.

They are now planning to approach the Care Commission to voice their concerns.

One finished, "We're going to do as much as we can because it's for the best for the service user.

"We've all got a duty to care and as far as we're concerned there are too many unsafe practices."

A spokesperson for Kingdom Housing Association, referring to the previous investigation, said, "We take all such allegations very seriously.

"After a thorough investigation, the appropriate action was taken.

"The Care Commission and Fife Council have been made aware of the allegation and of our subsequent investigation and action.

"If anyone has any new information in relation to these or any other allegations we would encourage them to speak to us directly or contact the Care Commission."

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