Elderly treated ‘by strangers’ and given wrong medication doses at Trafford care home

Patients at a Trafford care home have been left feeling unsafe as they are treated by ‘strangers’ and given incorrect doses of their medicine, a Care Quality Commission report reveals.

As well as failing to put in place adequate safety measures when handling controlled medications, Elkin Court in Partington was not keeping regular meal times and leaving doors unlocked at night.

The discoveries were made during a surprise inspection by the CQC and the care assisted residential area, which is run by housing and support provider Creative Support, has since received an ‘inadequate’ rating – the lowest possible rating – in a report published last month.

The report stated that Elkin Court did not have adequate medicine safety arrangements, and that some users did not feel safe being supported by agency workers, who they described as ‘strangers’.

It was found the service did not have adequate safeguards in place when managing a controlled drug, and one person at the service said that an agency worker had given them too much.

They also claimed that the medicine had been left out, and the CQC’s inspectors found errors in the records kept for controlled drugs as well as indications that incorrect dosages had been given.

People using the service said that when their regular care-workers were on duty the standard of care was higher, but they told the CQC that some workers needed ‘training in basic things’.

One resident said: “My regular workers are all very good, they know us well. They do their best, not enough staff though”.

Another said: “I think they get told what to do but they seem a bit worried when they are left alone at night. 

“They don’t know our door codes so wake us up to come in or leave the door unlocked which worries me.”

The CQC also reported that one resident ‘dreaded’ the days their regular worker was off as they did not know who was going to be supporting them.

Elkin Court was using agency staff and people using the service suggested that they did not have confidence in the training these carers had been given or their ability to look after them.

Staff at the centre said: “The registered manager is never here so we get no support but it is getting better since we now have a senior. She is approachable and understands”. 

Several people supported by the service have told the CQC that their regular care-workers were competent, and members of the care team echoed this while referring to a recent change in staff.

One staff member described Creative Support as the ‘best company I have ever worked for, it was great before the staff left it is a lovely place’.

Before the unannounced inspection, the service had lost two full-time members of staff, something they claimed had ‘impacted massively’ on the quality of care they could provide.

The registered manager of the service was also in charge at another service run by Creative Support and had not been at Elkin Court for a number of months, although they were present on the day.

The CQC quoted one patient as saying: “We don’t know who is in charge, and we never see the manager, have they left?”

Relatives of people using the service also expressed concern about the competency of agency staff.

One of the patient’s partners said: “I would rather not receive care from them, I would rather provide it to [my spouse] myself”.

In addition to this, an Elkin Court resident said that they were not being provided meals on a consistent basis, and that this affected their appetite. 

They said: “Sometimes I get calls at the wrong times which means I may have just had lunch so don’t want my tea if they come early. 

“It is frustrating, I do get enough to eat and drink but I am never sure what time, sometimes breakfast is late which means I don’t want my lunch.”

Inspectors for the CQC also found that the service did not conduct regular care-plan reviews with users, training records were out of date, and there was no complaint procedures in place.

Colette Leigh, who is listed as Elkin Court’s Responsible Individual on the Care Quality Commission’s website, said the care provider is working to ensure all issues highlighted by the CQC are resolved.

She said: “Creative Support is currently working with the Care Quality Commission and Trafford Council to ensure that all areas identified within the CQC inspection report are fully addressed.” 

Ms Leigh explained that Creative Support would be providing additional help to Elkin Court in order to bring the service up to a higher standard.

She told MM: “Creative Support has dedicated additional resources including management time and input from our internal quality team to support the team at Elkin Court in implementing the quality improvements. 

“We acknowledge that there have been issues at the service, but these have now been addressed through our new management team and we are confident that going forward we will be able to provide a high standard of care for tenants at the service.”

Ms Leigh also said that the care provider had requested a re-inspection of the service with a view to gaining an improved rating.

She added: “We have been in contact with CQC to request an early re-inspection of the service as we are confident that the measures taken will ensure that the service being provided meets the required standards.”

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