Mice infestations, choking hazards and serious safeguarding risks have caused health watchdogs to put a Wigan care home in special measures for the second time in two years.
Acorns Care Centre on Parkside in Hindley has been rated “inadequate” in its most recent inspection from the Care Quality Commission, which judged the safety, management and efficacy of the service.
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The care home has been slammed by inspectors for failing to protect vulnerable residents from “significant risk” of serious harm.
It is the fourth time in two years that managers at the home have been told to make vast improvements or face closure after they received an “inadequate” rating in February 2016 and a grading of “requires improvement” in October 2016 and April 2017.
Last year the care home came under scrutiny after Environmental Health discovered a “mice infestation” in kitchen and dining areas.
After finding the original infestation in April, the authority identified further concerns in October which have been taken into consideration in the CQC report.
The latest review says: “It was found, building repairs had not been made timely to prevent rodent access and pest control arrangements were ineffective in regards to the needs of the home.”
Inspectors also found that staff had failed to protect two residents from the risk of “aspiration or choking”.
The auditors added: “The two people had been assessed as having an “unsafe swallow” but had been given foods that were not in keeping with their assessed needs which could have exposed them to the significant risk of harm.
“Medicines were not managed safely due to processes being inconsistent, re-ordering of stock was chaotic and audits had not been conducted within required timeframes which would assist with re-ordering of medicines.”
During the report, inspectors drew particular attention to safeguarding shortfalls including incidents in which staff and management had failed to raise safeguarding alerts.
Incidents included an assault on one of the residents by another, and when a person got outside without the knowledge of staff and had then fallen face first out of their wheelchair.
“We found ineffective systems in place to safeguard people from abuse and improper treatment. During the inspection, we identified two events that had occurred which should have been referred to the local authority as safeguarding.
“However, neither incident had been referred; and one incident had been unknown to either registered manager.”
On a positive note the watchdog reported that staff were described as “kind, caring and always willing to help by people” using the service and their relatives.
Inspectors also saw people treated with dignity and respect, and given privacy by staff when they needed it.
During the inspection, five categories were evaluated in all, those being safety, efficacy, if the service is caring, if the service is well-led and if it is responsive.
Out of the five, the service was found to be caring, but fell short in all other areas.
After the inspection, the CQC wrote to Acorns Care Centre managers to request an update on improvements made. The watchdog says it is “considering enforcement actions” and will continue to monitor the service.
Debbie Westhead, CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector for adult social care said: “People are entitled to services providing them with safe, effective, responsive and high quality care. We found care provided at Acorns Care Centre in Wigan, fell short of the standard that services are expected to provide.
“Although we found improvements had been made at a previous inspection in April 2017, these have not been sustained, and in some areas we found care had got worse.
“It was concerning that environmental health inspectors found a mice infestation and the provider had not undertaken building repairs in a timely fashion to prevent rodent access. Pest control arrangements were also ineffective for the needs of this home.
“We are working with local partners including Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council to ensure the safety of people using this service.”
Other findings from the inspection included a “chaotic” re-ordering system for medicines which put people at risk, people’s care plans not being followed, training schedules for staff were ineffective, meaning some staff were working without the required competence and skills to fulfil the duties of their role and staff were not appropriately supported by management.