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Staffordshire care home put residents ‘at risk of harm’, report says

December 20, 2021


An East Staffordshire care home put its residents “at risk of harm” amid concerns over how their medicines are managed.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors have given Barrowhill Hall a rating of “requires improvement” in their recently published report.

The watchdog raised concerns including how “covert” medicines hidden in food or drink were being given to patients.

Plans were not always reviewed frequently enough to ensure it remained in residents’ best interests to administer their medicines without them knowing.

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Discrepancies between stock and records at the Rocester home’s specialist dementia unit, Churnet Lodge, meant inspectors could not be sure residents had received their medicines as prescribed.

And the report says a constipated resident was left “at risk” when they were given no medication after two days with no bowel movement. While inspectors found no evidence people had actually been harmed, systems were either “not in place” or “not robust enough” to show medicines were being safely managed.

The report says: “This placed people at risk of harm. This was a breach of regulation 12 (Safe Care and Treatment) of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014.”

The Rocester care home was told it “required improvement” in the CQC’s “safe” category.

It was also judged to “require improvement” in the “well-led” metric, with a recent medicines audit failing to identify issues highlighted by the CQC.

However, the inspector acknowledged the home’s new manager had not yet had sufficient time to identify problems and make changes.

The report reads: “The manager was receptive to feedback and told us they would act to make the required improvements.”

Barrowhill remains “good” in the CQC’s “effective”, “caring” and “reponsive” categories.

The inspection was carried out on September 24 and the report released on November 5.

Staff and residents’ relatives happy with Barrowhill

The CQC found there were sufficient experienced workers to care for the 63 residents living at Barrowhill, with praise reserved for the home’s recruitment of staff.

An agency staff member, who had worked at the home “regularly and for some time”, said: “There are enough staff to look after the residents, it is very calm here, all the residents are settled which isn’t always the case [in dementia care].”

Inspectors also documents glowing references from workers and residents’ relatives.

One family member said: “I would be confident to recommend the home. I [spend time] there frequently and see how staff respond to other residents.”

A staff member said: “I think it is a lovely place to work; it is like a big family. The staff support each other and the manager is approachable too.”

The problems with stock and records at Churnet Lodge were not reflected in Barrowhill’s main hall.

Despite criticism over medicine management, other risks were deemed “well managed”.

A relative said. “My [relative] has a tendency to fall and staff are very good at pre-empting their behaviour.They know [my relative] well.”

Safeguarding at the home was also praised, with staff trained to understand how to protect residents from abuse.

One relative said: “I’m completely confident [my relative] is safe. Staff seem to care. We call every day. Whoever answers the phone, they always know how [my relative] is.”

The CQC said: “We saw that appropriate referrals were made to the safeguarding adult’s team, when required, to ensure people were protected. There was a suitable system in place that was understood and followed.”

Barrowhill Hall has been approached for comment.

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