A WOMAN whose 75-year-old mother has been refused a place in a local nursing home because of her weight says it “screams discrimination”.

Chaanah Lynas, from Livingston in West Lothian, says her mother, Susan Lynas, was left “shocked and upset” after being told her application to Woodlands Nursing Home had been rejected.

Mrs Lynas is 22 stone and requires a wheelchair after breaking her back in a fall at her home in February last year.

She had been due to move into sheltered housing when the accident happened but ended up spending months in hospital instead, where she also battled back from a Covid infection contracted during her treatment.

HeraldScotland: Woodlands Nursing Home in Livingston, West LothianWoodlands Nursing Home in Livingston, West Lothian

Mrs Lynas, who also has diabetes, was discharged into an interim care home in November last year to recuperate but is now ready to move into a permanent nursing home.

READ MORE: Scotland's worst hit care homes for Covid deaths revealed 

Her 33-year-old daughter, who has two children including a severely disabled son who she cares for full-time, wanted to have her mother close by so that she could visit her regularly.

Ms Lynas said: “I’ve got a disabled child, so to be able to visit my Mum I can’t travel that far.

“We applied to [Woodlands] because she knew it and she knew people who’d been there.

“She was so excited and looking forward to moving in there, but then they came back on Monday and said they were unable to offer her a place because of her weight.

“She’s 22 stone but she was in hospital for a long time, unable to move, and she contracted Covid while she was in there as well and was very ill.

“She’s been through a lot and then she was moved into the interim home for rehabilitation - but of course there hasn’t been any physiotherapy going on because of Covid.

“[Woodlands] said their chairs aren’t wide enough for people of her size, that their doorways aren’t wide enough, that she’d be a fire hazard. It’s ridiculous.

“My Mum’s in a regular wheelchair - she’s not even in a bariatric wheelchair - so she’d be able to fit through these doorways.

“It just screams discrimination to me.”

READ MORE: Is it time to reform the care sector? - and if so, how? 

The home denies discriminating against Mrs Lynas and says due to her complex care needs it would be "difficult" to provide the "person-centred" care they would wish.

Ms Lynas has been in touch with the Care Inspectorate to raise a complaint.

She said the watchdog told her that her mother’s weight put her “on the cusp of bariatric nursing” but she should not have been categorically excluded.

There are only 12 specialist bariatric nursing and care homes in Scotland, and none in West Lothian.

The closest to Livingston are in Edinburgh or the Scottish Borders.

HeraldScotland: Susan Lynas pictured with her daughter ChaanahSusan Lynas pictured with her daughter Chaanah

Ms Lynas said she was unhappy that a decision had been made without anyone meeting her mother in person, due to Covid.

She added: “In Scotland, 65% of the population are overweight or obese, but in 2021 we’re not catering to the needs of the population.

“Larger people face enough stigma as it is without worrying where you’re going to be able to go at the end of your life.

“My Mum put on weight in hospital but she’s on a restricted diet and when she’s able to do exercise and physio she’ll lose some of that weight.”

A spokesman for the home, which is owned and operated by Peacock Medicare, said: “At no time was there any discrimination shown to the prospective resident.

"The pre-admission assessment took place over the telephone with the person’s present care establishment using paperwork provided by the referring officer.

"This has been our practice since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The pre-admission assessment highlighted that the person had complex care needs and, at this time, we could not offer a place due to these.

“The decision was person centred as we strive to deliver quality care using this approach to all our residents.

"We would find difficult to meet this person’s needs in a person centred manner.”

In 2019, a survey of more than 2,800 UK care home managers found that one in 10 were turning potential residents away because they did not have suitable facilities, with one care home manager admitting to rejecting obese people due to the cost of care.

Only 41% of care home staff said they were equipped to look after very heavy residents despite an estimated 5.8 million people over-65 in Britain being obese.

READ MORE: Hospital link to care homes' Covid outbreaks 'cannot be ruled out'

Bariatric residents are typically classed as weighing 25 stone or more, and requiring larger, reinforced beds and baths, and mechanical lifts and hoists.

One care home manager responding to the survey said moving and handling obese residents put a “physical strain” on staff.

HeraldScotland: Many care homes say they are not equipped to look after obese elderly residents despite increasing prevalence in the populationMany care homes say they are not equipped to look after obese elderly residents despite increasing prevalence in the population

They said: “If I accepted them I would lose money and my door would be revolving with staff complaining about their concerns about their physical health.

"My directors would want to know why I put their home at risk from financial loss and at risk of litigation from staff.”

Another complained that care homes “are not given more money for very large people despite the fact it is so expensive taking care of them”, adding: "I think the majority of people don't understand what the care of an obese person entails."