Care home improves Covid infection control but medicine safety criticised

Elm Tree residential home

Elm Tree residential home in Elm Tree Avenue, Frinton-on-Sea, has been rated 'inadequate' by health inspectors - Credit: Google Maps

A care home deemed 'inadequate' by health inspectors has boosted its infection control systems after being criticised for breaching Covid rules during the pandemic.

Elm Tree, in Frinton-on-Sea, was visited by the Care Quality Commission for a full inspection in December and placed in special measures.

The 46-bed home was rated 'inadequate' with particular concerns about safety and leadership, down from the second-highest rating of 'good' awarded in March 2020.

Although the home had no outbreak of coronavirus inspectors were concerned it was not following up-to-date Government guidance on operating safely with fears staff were not wearing PPE effectively and social distancing was not being adhered to.

In late March, inspectors carried out a targeted inspection into the home's safety and they published a report on their findings last week.

After the December inspection, care home manager Tania Warner said all staff wore disposable masks that were changed regularly throughout the day, with a supply available around the home, adding that employees received training on hand hygiene with all care staff given their own supply of sanitiser.

This time around, CQC experts found that the majority of staff had received infection control training, and as a result, the home was no longer in breach of regulation.

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Covid-19 risk assessments had also been completed for residents, but inspectors said these did not identify underlying health conditions which may put people at increased risk of catching Covid. 

The CQC said it could not be assured staff were practicing good hand hygiene to minimise the spread of infection.

"Staff were not observed sanitising their hands between contact with people and did not always carry their hand sanitiser with them," assessors wrote in the report.

But changes had been made to the home's environment to ensure social distancing rules were followed, staff were observed following government guidance on PPE and the provider had not taken in any more residents since the last inspection.

Medicine management was heavily criticised by inspectors in the CQC's report, however, with inspectors warning that this breached a safety regulation.

They had not always been given in the correct doses and were not always available in sufficient stocks.

Records were not being kept in some cases and if residents had not received their medicines, reasons were not always given for this, nor were actions noted down.

The home will be kept under close review by the CQC and the special measures rating has not changed.

Bosses at the home did not respond to our requests for comment on the March visit.