SERVICES at a care unit run by South Tyneside Council were condemned as “not safe” by a health watchdog.
Inspectors from the Quality Care Commission (QCC) found medication audits were inadequate and staff did not have a good understanding of mental health regulations at Danesfield Supported Living Service in Field Terrace, Jarrow.
An inspection at the unit, which provides support for 19 people who have a learning disability, mental health problems or physical disabilities, found some aspects of the service were “not safe.”
A report also noted that quality of care plans and review records at the unit were “inconsistent” and medical records were not always compiled accurately.
However, both families and those supported by the unit said they “felt safe” and were treated with “respect” and “empathy” by staff and management who they described as “caring and very, very understanding.”
The shortcomings contradict pledges given by the local authority following its serious case review into the St Michael’s View Care Home scandal in South Shields, and the council says it has already addressed the issues raised in the report.
During an inquest last year into Joyce Wordingham’s death, which sparked a major police probe into the way in which it was run by the now -defunct Southern Cross, failings included care plans either not being completed or done inadequately.
Care campaigner Phil Brown, said: “While this is nothing like the systemic failings which were suffered by residents at St Michael’s View, here we are again.
“Care plans were not being carried out adequately and those who are supposed to be providing care to our most vulnerable people were not keeping adequate records which can be vital in an emergency.
“Following St Michael’s View, we were given assurances that lessons would be learned but it seems they have not been.
Inspectors also found staff at Danesfield “did not have a good understanding” of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and said they wanted more training.
The Mental Capacity Act protects and supports people who do not have the ability to make decisions for themselves and to ensure decisions are made in their ‘best interest’.
The report also found the service was “not well-led” and the provider had not made progress to improve quality assurance since the last inspection carried out in February.
The report summary following the QCC inspectors findings noted: “In February 2014, our inspection found that the provider breached regulations relating to assessing and monitoring the quality of service provision and records.
“Following this inspection the provider sent us an action plan to tell us the improvements they were going to make. We found the provider had made progress to improve the quality of care records. However, we found the provider had continued to breach regulations relating to how the quality of the service was monitored and had also failed to meet the assurances given in the action plan.
“Medication audits were inadequate and had not been successful in identifying and dealing with gaps in signatures on people’s medication administration records. Staff did not have a good understanding of how the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) applied to people who used the service. Staff told us they would like more training.”
The report also noted: “People gave us positive feedback about the service, the support they received and the staff delivering their support.”
A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said: “The safety and care of our vulnerable residents is of paramount importance. A rigorous action plan was implemented to address the concerns raised by the QCC and a warning notice has since been withdrawn. Regular monitoring visits will continue to ensure that improvements that have taken place are sustained.”
Death at another home prompted ‘new approach’
THE death of pensioner Joyce Wordingham led to a catalogue of “systemic” failures being discovered at a South Tyneside care home.
The 80-year-old former cinema usherette, who had been a resident at St Michael’s View Care Home in South Shields, had been found dead in her bed on the morning of February 20, 2010.
An out-of-hours GP had raised the alarm after being concerned of the events surrounding her death.
It led to the home being the subject of a police investigation after it was discovered residents had been subjected to neglect and abuse.
A number of staff appeared before the Nursing and Midwifery Council and two appeared before Newcastle Crown Court.
A serious case review – commissioned by South Tyneside Safeguarding Adults Board – was launched into the failings at the home.
It led to a list of recommendations being made for a number of organisations including South Tyneside Council.
In a report by independent chairwoman Dr Sue Ross, she said partner agencies had “adopted a new approach” to safeguarding, with stronger procedures for monitoring and information sharing.”
Among the recommendations for South Tyneside Council’s Adult Social Care was to check care providers, specifically their recruitment, training and supervision systems and that they meet the required standards.