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Suspected abuse at Newbury care home was not reported

West Berkshire Council-run facility placed in special measures

Chris Ord


01635 886639

Suspected abuse at Newbury care home was not reported

BOSSES at a West Berkshire Council-run care home failed to report suspected abuse of residents, a damning new report has revealed.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found residents “were not safeguarded from abuse” and “not kept safe” during a recent visit to Birchwood Care Home in Newbury.

The inspectors’ report details instances of potential abuse at the home, including one resident being force-fed medication and another receiving an unexplained fracture to their arm – neither of which were reported to the CQC.

The home has been placed in special measures by the CQC after inspectors rated the service “inadequate”.

West Berkshire Council, which took over the running of the care home in June, said it was “disappointed” with the findings and that an action plan to improve the service was being implemented.

The health watchdog was prompted to carry out the two-day inspection at the 60-bed care home after being tipped off about potential abuse and a number of other safety concerns by family members, health professionals, staff and also the local authority.

During the visits, on September 29 and October 1, inspectors said they identified “several” breaches of the Health and Social Care Act.

At one point, inspectors had to intervene to stop a resident accessing an un-attended and unlocked medicine trolley.

In another instance, one family member told the inspectors how they had had to clean their relative’s en-suite bathroom themselves after staff failed to notice another resident had used it and left it in a mess.

They also said the service was “not responsive to people’s needs” and did not have “adequate management or leadership”.

New management had been put in place when the care home was taken over by the council.

The care home was also criticised by the inspectors for not keeping adequate records and paperwork relating to the care of its elderly residents.

The situation was particularly critical, said the CQC, because of the high number (55 per cent) of agency staff used at the home.

Improvements must now be made before the next inspection which will take place in the next six months.

The care home, in Birchwood Road, is one of four managed by the local authority.

The other three, Notrees Care Home in Kintbury, Walnut Close Care Home in Thatcham and Willows Edge Care Home in Newbury, are all rated “good” by the CQC.

West Berkshire Council spokesman Martin Dunscombe said: “The council took over Birchwood in June when it had ‘requires improvement’ status and promptly identified further areas of concern which also needed tackling.

“We are already implementing a clear action plan to not only bring standards at Birchwood in line with our other care homes, which are all rated ‘good’, but also to offer 10 step-down beds to help speed the recovery of people who would otherwise have to stay in a hospital.

“However, this will take longer than the four-month period on which the CQC have judged.

He added: “We look forward to the next inspection and we expect many of our planned improvements to be well established by then.”

Chief officer at Healthwatch West Berkshire Andrew Sharp said the organisation was very concerned about the findings.

He said: “This is very much now on our radar with a view that the service makes the improvements necessary so that residents who use the facility can do so in confidence and have faith that they will receive the level of care they expect.

“I’m hoping that West Berkshire Council can improve things in a way that the previous management were unable to do.”

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