Rossendale Free Press

Care home in PPE row with watchdog

- TOM EARNSHAW freepressn­ @RossFreePr­ess

AROW has erupted at a Valley care home after inspectors from England’s healthcare watchdog placed the facility into special measures after finding unmarked PPE waste bins, with one left open without a lid.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission visited Fern Hill House Care Home over two days in November last year, with 48 hours notice given due to Covid19 safety rules.

Now, in the report published on December 29, the home was heavily criticised for leaving residents and staff ‘at risk from the transmissi­on of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases’.

On the first day of the inspection, CQC staff found used PPE was not being disposed of properly.

“Bins for the disposal of such waste were not clearly identified and one was left open and did not have a lid,” inspectors noted.

Inspectors also said a piece of moving equipment in a communal area was “very dirty”, with one visiting profession­al saying parts of the home “could be dirty” on arrival.

“We found no evidence to demonstrat­e people were affected by unsafe infection control practices. However, people were placed at risk of potential harm, as systems were not sufficient­ly effective to prevent the potential risk of infectious disease transmissi­on,” inspectors noted.

Phil Padgett, Group Operations Manager at the Todmorden Road care home, revealed management had formally challenged the issues regarding PPE but “without achieving the amendments to the report that we hoped would be agreed”.

“I believe Fern Hill House may be the only care home in the Rossendale area to have achieved zero Covidposit­ive residents and zero resident Covid deaths,” Mr

Padgett told the Free Press.

“Yet the CQC chose to make the comments they made. We believed the comments to be disproport­ionate as demonstrat­ed by excellent infection control, including Covid-19, outcomes. Our appeal fell on deaf ears.”

Non-Covid issues highlighte­d, included fire escapes described as “dangerous and not fit for purpose”. As well as this an official fire service notice from November 2018, identifyin­g a number of concerns, had not been acted on.

Inspectors noted: “Firefighti­ng equipment was inappropri­ately sign posted, an empty fire extinguish­er had been left in a communal corridor and insufficie­nt staff had had training on this area of safety. A fire risk assessment was out of date.”

“With regard to fire safety there were issues but we had identified the issues ourselves prior to CQC inspection and had already emptied and closed off the top floor of the home and had contacted contractor­s to make safe the external areas that needed improvemen­ts - before CQC inspected,” Mr Padgett responded. “These improvemen­ts are well under way and will all be completed this month.”

Training issues were noted, with residents at risk of Covid-19 with six staff needing to complete infection control courses. A further seven staff members also had yet to complete mandatory safeguardi­ng training, with one staff member “not knowledgea­ble about safeguardi­ng”, inspectors said.

Responding, Mr Padgett said: “With regard to training, it is correct that we were below our usual level but this had been caused by Covid related restrictio­ns and absences and cancelled group training sessions. We have caught up with almost all training shortfalls now and will be totally up to date with all mandatory training for all staff by end of January.”

Overall, Fern Hill House was rated Inadequate and placed into special measures. It was rated as Inadequate in the two categories concerning safety and good leadership. The three areas addressing care, responsive­ness, and effectiven­ess were not rated as remain as Good.

The CQC is now set to revisit the home within six months to check for significan­t improvemen­ts. If enough have not been made, it could be shut down.

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Google ●● Fern Hill House has been put into special measures

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