Care facilities blasted by watchdog

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THREE Wigan elderly care facilities have been blasted by a health watchdog in a damning report into a worrying list of failings.

The companies – which have responsibilities across the borough – have now been warned that they must take action after failing to meet minimum standards or face censure for potential non-compliance.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) was today joined by the area’s local HealthWatch group in warning the businesses that all three now face close scrutiny to make sure they carry out improvements.

The three care firms – Norfolk House in Springfield, Ashton-based Makerfield Home Care Agency plus Leigh’s High Peak Lodge – have failed a total of nine quality standards ranging from cleanliness and infection control to unsatisfactory record-keeping and management of medicines. The CQC Inspectors, who visited the businesses in July, found a catalogue of incidents which were sufficient for a formal ‘Action Needed’ notification.

Failings included:

Norfolk House - a clinical waste bin situated in the home’s laundry next to the clean washing leading to a potential risk of airborne infections to the laundry. Several bedrooms were found to be “malodorous with a smell of urine”. Three fire doors were seen to be wedged open. Wallpaper was peeling off the walls and sinks were cracked.

Makerfield Home Care Agency - appropriate checks were not always taken before staff began work. One staff member’s file contained two written references and one staff file contained only one written reference. Members of staff had been working alone delivering care and support to people prior to a full disclosure and barring check being completed. Failure to carry out effective recruitment procedures may result in staff being employed who were not suitable for the role.

High Peak Lodge - difficulty in finding information and “checking and confirming people’s medicines” due to a “lack of consistency in where it was recorded”. Staff were found to be failing to adhere to the home’s medicines policy.

None of the care homes have commented on the CQC’s report but Sir Ian McCartney, chairman of Wigan HealthWatch and a former Health Secretary and Makerfield MP, branded the report’s findings “concerning”.

He said: “Both St Helens and Wigan councils have withdrawn the contracts they had with Makerfield Home Care Agency at my request, based on their very poor reports from the Care Quality Commission.

“In relation to High Peak Lodge, theirs is an issue relating to the management of medicines records.

“However, the one that gives me real concerns is Norfolk House and you will notice that they fail six of the nine national standards, including; Care and Welfare, Cleanliness and Infection Control and Safety and Suitability of Premises, to name just a few.

“This is a report that HealthWatch will be following up with the Care Quality Commission at our regular meetings and also as a matter of urgency with the Local Authority Procurement Officials to assure us that they will be following this report up to secure all of the improvements in swift time.

“I will be asking the Care Quality Commission to do a detailed follow up as soon as possible and to advise us of what they find.”