Inspection highlights ‘widespread and systemic failings’ at care home

Whitchurch Care Home has been rated as Inadequate, with inspectors finding “widespread and systemic failings”.

The home on Bristol Road in Whitchurch Village, is part of the Four Seasons Health Care group and provides accommodation and nursing care for up to 50 older people. It costs up to £1,000 a week to live there.

At the time of the  unannounced inspection by the Care Quality Commission last month there were 25 residents, the home was in a safeguarding process and the provider had put in place a self-imposed embargo on admissions.

The local authority safeguarding team were monitoring and working with the home to ensure people were protected from abuse and their rights safeguarded. A recent incident where a person had suffered a significant injury was being looked into by the statutory agencies.

Placing the home into special measures, the CQC said it found nine breaches of regulations including areas relating to safe care and treatment, safeguarding, treating people with dignity and respect, person centred care, staffing, complaints, statutory notifications and good governance.

Among the issues highlighted in the report which has now been published, is that there were not enough skilled and competent staff to meet people’s needs. The high usage of agency staff had caused a lack of leadership for staff and confusion about who was responsible for people’s wellbeing and care needs.

Residents did not always receive their prescribed medicines as required and were placed at risk of infection due to poor hygiene practices. Of the 26 people at the home, only six had received a bath or shower in the previous four weeks, the CQC report says.

Complaints were not being consistently identified or investigated to enable the provider to respond or make improvements. Although the inspectors received some positive feedback about the care staff, and saw some instances of good care, they also observed occasions when people’s dignity had been compromised.

This service had been rated as Requires Improvement at three consecutive inspections in December 2014, July 2016 and February 2017. At the February 2017 inspection it was also rated Inadequate in the ‘well led’ category. Following this, improvements were made and at the following inspection in October 2017 the service was rated Good for the first time.

The CQC report says: “Since then the provider has been unable to sustain a good level of service or build on improvements. The history of this service demonstrates that the provider cannot sustain a good quality of service over a long period of time and many of the shortfalls found are repeated from previous inspections.”

This week the home has released this statement: “Although the CQC inspectors said that they observed instances of good care from staff and there was positive feedback from some residents and relatives, we regret that Whitchurch Care Home has fallen well below the standards that we expect to provide and that the CQC requires.

“We take our responsibilities as a care provider seriously and before the inspection we had put in place a self-imposed embargo on admissions, so the home could focus on caring for existing residents and improving the service. We accept that we have a lot more to do to tackle the operational issues and we are putting in place a comprehensive improvement programme, which we will carry out in close liaison with the CQC and local authority care commissioners.

“To strengthen management, we have brought in an experienced manager from another home and we are providing additional oversight from our regional management team. Also our resident experience specialists are supporting colleagues in the home while our quality assurance team are monitoring all aspects of care.

“We have increased staffing to well above the complement required to meet the needs of our residents and have reviewed the number and skills mix of staff deployed on each shift, together with work practices, to ensure staffing levels are always more than adequate.

“As a national care provider, we have the right systems and procedures in place to support quality care, but they were not being properly used at home level, so we have been reviewing and updating care plans, medication administration and other documentation. We will also be supporting staff with refresher and enhanced training programmes.

“We are contacting residents and their relatives to explain our improvement plan and to listen to any points they want to raise about any aspect of care provision.”