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Ants on the dining table: Care home near Oswestry placed in special measures

By Jonny Drury | Oswestry | Health | Published:

A Shropshire care home rated as inadequate was found to have ants on a dining table and had suffered from a lack of leadership.

A damning report into Meadowbrook Care Home in Gobowen, near Oswestry, was published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), following an unannounced inspection on April 4 and 5.

Problems will staffing, a level of care and the leadership of the home has led to it being placed in special measures.

The commission identified breaches of the health and social care act, and said no improvements had been made following a previous inspection in September 2016.

Read the full CQC report on Meadowbrook Care Home here

Provider Four Seasons Healthcare has apologised, and insisted it is working with residents and staff to improve the standard of care provided.

At the time of inspection the home had 50 residents, in three units, with inspectors reporting not enough staff and a high turnover of staff caused major problems, and that people living in the home were not always treated with respect and dignity was compromised.

Within the report, inspectors spoke to residents, staff and managers, along with other staff members who raised concerns.

A relative of a resident who had been in the home several years told inspectors care was good at first but had gone steadily down hill

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They said: "The staffing is not good, if this inspection can do one thing please get the staffing sorted. There are too many agency staff who do not know the residents or their needs."

A staff member said: "We have lost a lot of good carers.

"Five years ago the care here was person-centred. Now it is all about getting through the tasks. We are overrun with paperwork. No time to sit with people because of constant form filling."

Health hazards were picked up, with one bedroom being use as a storage area.

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Inspectors said: "We saw one person living with dementia had entered this room, we helped them out and closed the door. "

They also noted dirty kitchen conditions, and ants on one of the dining tables.

A relative of a resident on the Mary Powell unit, said: "It breaks my heart to see how they run the kitchen here and the dining room. It's dirty, people wandering in and out all the time – the traffic through the kitchen should not happen because of health and safety and control of infection."

Inspectors said a table was dirty, they noted ants on a table were people were to eat, and added in one bedroom on the unit they found that a person's mattress was soiled.

Inspectors said residents were not always treated with respect, with a resident saying: "They staff don't give me a bath or a shower. I don't know why they just give me a good wash down."

On another occasion a relative said a resident had been left with dirty fingernails and their hands smelt.

Inspectors also said confidentiality was not always maintained.

Others in the home enjoyed a positive working relationship with staff.

One resident said: "The rapport between me and the carers is good." They added they had a 'wicked' sense of humour and could have a laugh with staff.

The report said the leadership of the care home was inadequate.

The registered manager was away from work at the inspection, and resigned shortly after.

One person said the manager "is invisible I would not rate them. I like deputy manager, I respect them. They are the foundation of this place."

A relative said, "I don't think the care is good here, currently and I wouldn't recommend this place to anyone. It runs on skeleton staff at weekends, that's when things happen. Shouldn't the standard of care be consistent throughout the week?"

Inspectors noted the provider had submitted notification's of allegations of abuse at the home.

However, they found the provider had not always been open and transparent when informing family of such incidents.

For example, one relative told inspectors their relative had been involved in an accident where a staff member had caught their family member's toe on the footplate of their wheelchair.

It was not until some months later when they were sent an investigation report completed by the provider they found out the full extent of the incident which related to alleged abuse of their relative by a staff member.

The comments on leadership at the home were scathing, with inspectors added: "We found that there was a lack of leadership and a complacent working culture at the home. "

Improvements have since been made, with a staff member adding: "The deputy is the backbone of this place. If it was not for them the home would shut down."

Four Seasons apologised, and said due to significant improvements in recent months, the home can now admit new residents on a phased basis.

A statement said: "We are sorry that Meadowbrook Care Home has fallen well below the standards that we expect all of our homes to provide. Since the inspection, which took place in April, we have been treating this as a priority and carrying out a comprehensive programme of improvements."

"We have been working in close liaison with the Care Quality Commission and with Shropshire County Council and because of improvements that have been made so far in the last three months , the home is now again able to admit new residents on a phased basis on certain units.

The CQC inspectors report was critical of a lack of management leadership and support. We have since put in place a new management structure with the appointment of two new Home Managers, because of the size and complexity of the home. One is focused on quality of care and the other on the business administration.

"We have reviewed staffing and adjusted how staff are deployed so that there are always sufficient staff on duty to meet the needs of residents in a timely way.

"We have the right systems and processes in place to support a high standard of care, but they were not being used properly."

Jonny Drury

By Jonny Drury
@JonnyDrury_Star

Senior reporter covering Oswestry and Mid Wales.

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