Mixed fortunes for Alnwick care homes after health inspections

Abbeyfield House , Alnwick
Abbeyfield House , Alnwick

Health inspectors have ruled that an Alnwick care home requires improvement.

Abbeyfield House, on South Road, was inspected at the end of October and the findings have been published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Summerhill Care Home, Alnwick

Summerhill Care Home, Alnwick

The report states that the facility requires improvement overall, and in two categories – for being responsive and well-led. However, it was rated as good for being safe, effective and caring.

Meanwhile, the town’s Summerhill care home, at The Dunterns, was rated as good overall, but the inspection team said that the safety of the service requires improvement. The home says that this has since been addressed.

Responding to the Abbeyfield findings, Abbeyfield Care chairman Jim Thompson said: “We are aware of what is wrong and we have got a plan in place as we speak. We have recruited new members to the executive committee and we are looking at the structure within the house.

“Over the last year, we were involved in a potential merger with the Abbeyfield Society.

“In the end, we decided not to merge, but our attention was on the merger and we didn’t want to set any structures in place with weren’t acceptable to them. But we are very grateful for the CQC comments and we want to be competent in all areas, because that is very important.”

At the time of the inspection – at the end of October – 20 people were accommodated at the facility. Part of the report states that ‘the service was not always responsive’ and ‘care planning, delivery and recording was not consistent while some people’s needs were not met’.

It adds: ‘The service was not always well-led. Audits in place to assess and monitor the quality of the service had not been completed since June 2015. Shortfalls in care planning and recording had not been picked up by the provider’s internal monitoring systems.

‘Care plans were not always specific or delivered as described. We found one person’s pressure-relieving equipment had not been used correctly putting them at risk of pressure damage.

‘Where people used the service on a respite basis, assessments and care plans had not been completed. Records did not always reflect the care people received.’

But inspectors said that people felt safe and comfortable at the home, there was a range of activities on offer, including regular trips, there were enough staff to meet needs, medicines were managed appropriately and the home was clean. It was also noted that staff training was up to date, the food on offer was appetising and plentiful and that people spoke very highly of the registered manager and staff, with examples of when employees had gone ‘the extra mile’ for people.

Meanwhile, Summerhill was inspected in August and there were 27 people living at the home at the time.

The home was judged as being good overall, and was given good ratings for being effective, caring, responsive and well led. Inspectors said that staff were kind and compassionate, appropriately trained and treated people with dignity and respect. They added that people could access appropriate health, social and medical support as soon as it was needed and an activities programme was in place.

But the report stated that not all aspects of the service was safe, as ‘windows did not have restrictors fitted and a risk assessment had not been completed. This meant window safety did not comply with current guidance from the Health and Safety Executive on preventing falls from windows in care homes’.

The report adds: ‘Night-time staffing levels had not been assessed to ensure that there were sufficient staff on duty to evacuate people safely in the event of an emergency.’

Care manager Beverley Hope said: “We are really pleased with the report. We are a home-from-home and that’s what we try to provide.

“We have addressed the safety issues, by putting restrictors on the windows and have addressed night-time staffing levels.”