Care home ordered to make immediate improvements

A MORPETH care home must make urgent improvements after it received a damning report from inspectors.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has issued a formal warning to European Care (England) Limited, registered provider of the Howard Castle facility in Dacre Street, for failing to protect the safety and welfare of the people using the service.

It resulted from an unannounced visit to the home on September 12 to follow up requirements made during a previous inspection.

Those attending found that people living there were not protected against the risks associated with unsafe or unsuitable premises. Maintenance was not up to date and parts of the home needed to be addressed as quickly as possible.

The home, which provides accommodation and nursing care for up to 40 people, some of whom have dementia, was also failing to operate effective systems to assess and monitor the quality of care provided there.

Although systems were in place to identify risks and set actions to manage them, inspectors found no evidence that these actions had been implemented.

In their report, residents said they were satisfied with their own rooms, but they expressed concerns around the general maintenance of the home and complained about the strong odours coming from the former treatment room.

The inspectors said: “The old treatment room was locked with a notice stating ‘danger do not enter’.

“We asked staff to open the door and we saw the floor was missing and rotten joists were visible, there was mould growing up the walls and around the room, the under floor area was moulded and we noted foul, offensive odours.

“We were told this was caused by sewerage seepage and flood. The staff told us this had happened three months earlier and this was confirmed by the acting manager and records.

“The treatment room had been relocated to a bedroom and minor amendments were made to make this a suitable environment. However, medication trolleys were not secure, the room temperature was not monitored and the flooring was a stained carpet.”

In addition, portable electrical appliances, extractor units and lifting equipment had not always been checked or serviced when they should have been and records showed that excessively hot water temperatures had been reported to the manager on several occasions.

Malcolm Bower-Brown, CQC’s director in the North, said: “The law sets out national standards that everyone who uses services should be able to expect. Providers have a duty to ensure they meet these standards.

“This warning sends a clear and public message that European Care (England) Limited need to address these issues as a matter of urgency or face serious consequences.

“We will return to Howard Castle in the near future and if we find that the provider is not making the required progress, we won’t hesitate to use our legal powers to ensure residents are receiving the service they are entitled to expect.”

If the set deadline for improvements is not met, CQC has a range of enforcement powers which include restricting the services that a provider can offer or, in the most serious cases, suspending or cancelling a service.

The independent regulator can also issue financial penalties and cautions or prosecute it for failing to meet essential standards.

A spokesperson for Howard Castle said: “I can confirm that we are working closely with the Care Quality Commission.

“As soon as we received this feedback we acted immediately to address the points raised. The health and well-being of the people we support is our number one priority.”