Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Home 'has improved' since critical inspection report

THE directors of a new care home in Henley have rejected claims that they are not taking a critical inspection report seriously enough.

The Chilterns Court Care Centre was rated as “requires improvement” by the Care Quality Commission following an unannounced inspection in January, which was prompted by “concerns” raised by anonymous complainants.

The inspectors said improvements were needed in the home’s safety, effectiveness, responsiveness and leadership, although it was rated good for patient care.

The 64-bed home, which was built as part of the Townlands Memorial Hospital redevelopment and officially opened last November, is run by the Orders of St John Care Trust.

Town councillor Ian Reissmann said he was concerned at the “casual attitude” towards the report shown by trust representatives at a meeting of the Townlands Stakeholder Reference Group.

He said: “A couple of people turned up to the meeting and said they had been found out by technical points, but it was a pretty bad report.

“It mentions a lack of respect for patients, patients being bored, not eating properly or being checked for choking, inadequate training and privacy problems.

“It’s pretty strong criticism and anyone who reads it should be worried about what’s happening.”

Councillor Reissmann, who chairs the Townlands Steering Group, said the pair did not say the issues had been addressed and the home’s manager was not at the meeting, which was held in private.

He has formerly asked the trust and Oxfordshire County Council, which commissions the service, for information on what action has been taken in response to the report.

He said: “We are concerned that they haven’t taken the criticism seriously. As the council commissions this service, we think it should be asking the question of why it is paying for a service that is unsuitable.

“It may be that they are taking the action needed but there was no evidence of that at the meeting and the casual attitude suggested they weren’t taking it seriously enough.

“The Care Quality Commission are the experts and the community wants reassuring that this facility is working. We need to make sure that at the next inspection it is at least satisfactory.”

Patsy Just, the trust’s assistant operations director in Oxfordshire and one of the two representatives at the meeting, said the issues flagged up in the report were being addressed.

She said: “We are working through the action plan agreed with the commission. We are making great progress and are confident that the home has improved significantly since the last inspection. We have had a major recruitment drive, are steadily building our team at the home and morale within the home continues to go from strength to strength.

“We continue to receive positive praise from the residents and their families regarding the wonderful care they receive.

“This is reflected in the feedback we had from the Mayor of Henley when she officially opened Peppard’s Garden, took a tour of the home and met our residents.”

Mrs Just said she had attended the meeting with the trust’s operations director Kevin Hall as the home manager was on annual leave.

“We strongly refute any allegations that we have not taken the report seriously,” she said.

“Our team at Chilterns Court have worked tremendously hard on making the required improvements and our focus is clearly on ensuring that we provide a safe, secure and happy home for our residents.”

The inspectors’ report said one member of staff had said they did not feel they were given enough training, while others gave examples of the registered manager “shouting” at staff in front of other staff and residents.

The report also said that care plans were not always completed in line with the principles of the Mental Capacity Act.

However, the inspectors also found the service was caring and staff treated people with compassion, while patients told inspectors they felt safe.

Staff were kind and caring, treating people as individuals and promoting choice and independence, and there was a “cheerful, relaxed atmosphere” at the home.

At the time, Mrs Just said: “We are disappointed with the outcome of the recent inspection, although it was pleasing to receive a ‘good’ for the part of the inspection relating to care.

“We have discussed this plan in detail with the commission and are working hard to ensure all steps are taken to implement the necessary improvements.”

Maria Melbourne, area service manager for Oxfordshire County Council, said the home was not operating at “maximum performance” at the time of the inspection.

“The points raised will be looked at and will be addressed,” she said. “No concerns were raised about the suitability of the facility to take patients and provide care.”

• Social care for the elderly and disabled is better in Oxfordshire than elsewhere in the country. Figures released by the Care Quality Commission this week show that the number of top-performing care homes and homecare providers in the county outstripped other areas. Of the 209 Oxfordshire providers, five per cent (10) were rated outstanding compared with two per cent nationally, 84 per cent (175) were rated good compared with 79 per cent nationally and only 10 per cent (20) required improvement compared with 18 per cent nationally. Four providers, or two per cen, were rated inadequate.

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