South Shields care facility ‘requires improvement’ after criticism from staff

Clasper Court Extra Care Housing Complex, Heron Drive.
Clasper Court Extra Care Housing Complex, Heron Drive.

A South Tyneside care facility has been told to improve the quality of leadership after criticism from its own staff.

Clasper Court, in Heron Drive, South Shields, has been marked ‘requires improvement’ in a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published earlier this year.

The extra care flats, run by South Tyneside Council, provide services for over 65s and specialise in dementia, physical disabilities and sensory impairments.

Following an inspection in October 2018, the service’s overall rating dropped from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’.

In their visit, the CQC gave the service ‘good’ ratings in ‘safe’, ‘effective’, ‘caring’ and ‘responsive’ categories.

In the ‘well-led’ category, the service slumped with issues flagged around sending legal notices to the CQC for potential safeguarding incidents.

Inspectors also found “mixed feedback” about leadership and management with some staff saying they felt unsupported.

One staff member, quoted in the report, said: “Staff morale is rock bottom. Total lack of communication about issues that affect us.”

This week, (March 19) South Tyneside’s Children and Adults Safeguarding Panel discussed what lessons could be learned from the judgement.

Head of Adults and Integrated Care, Vicki Pattinson, speaking at South Shields Town Hall, said the council was working with staff to “improve morale and culture”.

She said: “It’s worth noting that the inspector only spoke to a very small number of staff and as part of our own investigations, feedback from the staff group has been very positive.

“There are plans in place to continue to work with the staff in relation to the areas that have been highlighted and any concerns noted we will will be working on.”

She added: “The inspector was very clear that the service is safe, the residents within that service are safe and that there were no concerns about the quality of care.”

Corporate Director of Children, Adults and Health on the council, John Pearce, added the ‘well-led’ category is a “limiting judgement” – preventing the service being rated ‘good’ overall.

He told the meeting: “With any inspection, we always try to take a constructive approach with inspectors and how we deal with criticism and look at other things we can improve as a result of that.

“Inspection is there to help service improvement and make sure we’re delivering a high quality service.”

The meeting heard that out of 13 staff at the centre, the CQC spoke to three – a move sparking criticism from councillors.

Chair of the panel, Coun Pat Hay, said: “To me, that’s not good enough, to only speak to three is wrong.

“Those three people might have different opinions to the other ten.”

According to the CQC report, Clasper Court houses 24 people living independently in their own flats.

While the CQC do not regulate premises used for extra care housing, the inspection looked at the personal care and support service.

In its judgement, the watchdog ruled that the service breached the Health and Social Care Act  (Regulated Activities) around ‘good governance’.

A South Tyneside Council spokesman added: “We have implemented changes to address the concerns raised by the CQC at their last inspection, notably around administrative processes such as recording and reporting procedures.

“We remain confident that we have robust governance procedures in place.

“We continue to work with staff at Clasper Court to improve morale and strengthen team relationships.

“The safety and care of our residents is of paramount importance and the CQC report reinforces that the service at Clasper Court is safe, effective, caring and responsive.”

Caption: Clasper Court, South Shields. Picture: Google

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service