'Poor' infection control at care home sees used Covid test swab left in pile of clean PPE

Eight Ash Court in Eight Ash Green near Colchester has been rated 'inadequate' overall

Eight Ash Court in Eight Ash Green near Colchester has been rated 'inadequate' overall by the Care Quality Commission (file photo) - Credit: ARCHANT

Covid infection control at a care home for people with learning disabilities and autism has been slammed as "poor" despite the facility battling an outbreak of the disease.

Care Quality Commission experts visited Eight Ash Court, in Eight Ash Green near Colchester, twice in July and placed the service in ‘special measures’ after giving it the lowest-possible rating of ‘inadequate' for safety and leadership.

Inspectors from the independent regulator found that despite an outbreak of Covid-19 in one of the bungalows at the 12-bed facility, infection control measures remained “poor”.

There was no dedicated cleaning team and the home was not clean or hygienic, assessors warned, with CQC teams discovering build-ups of grime in bathrooms, dusty radiators, and food residue in microwaves.

Jason Cheung, registered manager, said the facility has been operating successfully for more than 20 years, stressing that the Covid-19 pandemic provided all health and social care providers with “unprecedented challenges”.

He explained the ‘inadequate’ rating was the first in its history and added that despite the CQC’s findings, no-one living at the facility has been seriously ill with Covid or admitted to hospital.

Serious concerns raised by the CQC in a subsequent report included staff wearing fabric face masks, wearing masks under their chin, and inappropriately using gloves and aprons in communal areas.

Most Read

While staff were regularly tested for Covid, CQC chiefs said this was not being managed safely or hygienically.

Assessors found 21 used lateral flow test cartridges in a plastic bag pinned to the staff noticeboard, and another used swab amongst clean PPE stored on the floor, next to fresh food.

Self-testing lateral flow kits are available for free from the NHS website

CQC inspectors said they found 21 used lateral flow test cartridges in a bag pinned to the staff noticeboard (stock image) - Credit: PA

Despite being outside visitors, inspectors were not asked to have their temperatures checked, provide proof of a negative lateral flow test or screened for signs and symptoms of Covid at the door.

However, steps had been taken to create an outside visiting space for families, with one person’s relative telling inspectors: “They have built a gazebo for visiting safely.”

CQC bosses wrote that they were also not assured the provider knew how to safely re-admit people to the home after a hospital stay.

Mixed feedback was given by relatives about the quality of care given - some people were happy while others expressed concerns.

Safeguarding allegations had not been reported to the CQC as required by law, with the home issued with a breach of regulation notice.

Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Kiwis

Staff were also found to be wearing masks underneath their chin, according to inspectors (stock image) - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Kiwis

Mr Cheung said the home was “disappointed” with the ‘inadequate’ rating, adding that they have “always taken pride” in providing high-quality care and support to people living at the facility, and are working hard to address the issues raised.

"We have made significant changes to processes and protocols in line with the advice from outside professionals,” he said. 

“Since the report’s issue, we have received positive feedback about the changes that have been adopted and are confident that all the points raised by the CQC have been addressed."   

He said some residents in one bungalow tested positive for Covid, but had no symptoms, with no-one in the second testing positive for the illness.

Eight Ash Court in Eight Ash Green near Colchester has been rated 'inadequate' overall

Eight Ash Court in Eight Ash Green near Colchester has been rated 'inadequate' overall by the Care Quality Commission (file photo) - Credit: ARCHANT

“It is also important to note the philosophy of Eight Ash Court is to provide a home-like environment for the service users with personal belongings, furnishings, and fittings and our goal was not to create a clinical or hospital environment,” Mr Cheung added.

The facility’s ‘special measures’ status means it will be re-inspected within six months to check improvements.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter