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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Major improvements at under-fire Cumbrian care home

A care home where residents were at risk of malnutrition and dehydration has made dramatic improvements.

Kirklands care home photo
Kirklands Care Home, Cockermouth

Concerns were so great about Kirklands, in Sullart Street, Cockermouth, that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) ordered immediate action to be taken.

In the wake of the damning report earlier this year, the News & Star launched its own investigation into the state of adult social care in Cumbria, with shocking results.

However, a follow-up visit by the social care watchdog has revealed that the home’s providers acted upon the concerns and residents are much safer.

The original report warned that the lives of residents – particularly those with dementia – were in danger, something relatives of those living there were quick to refute.

The family of Edwin Charles Hayton spoke of the care and compassion shown to him by the staff at Kirklands in his dying hours.

The latest report by the CQC has revealed that there had in fact been “a number of complaints and safeguarding issues”.

Inspectors were sent an action plan by the provider, explaining exactly how the issues would be dealt with including addressing staff competence and improving care plans.

“Some staffing matters had been dealt with through the company’s disciplinary procedures,” inspectors reported. “At this visit we saw there had been some changes to the make up of the staff team and that agency staff were no longer being used.

“We asked social workers from the local authority and they told us that they had not received any recent complaints or safeguarding referrals.”

The report said: “We had received no further complaints or safeguarding alerts about people being dehydrated or malnourished. On the day of the visit we did not see anyone who we judged to be at high risk.”

There have been changes made and other healthcare professionals have been visiting to help with the improvements but, the report also stated: “We did however learn that visiting professionals still had some concerns about the way care was delivered.

“However, many of these observations were not as serious as the concerns we had at the last inspection.”

While the home now meets almost all key basic standards, inspectors were particularly concerned about the maintenance of the home.

Previously stained and smelly furniture and carpets had been replaced and a new member of housekeeping staff employed, however it was discovered that a panel of fire-resistant safety glass was missing in a fire door on the top floor.

“Staff and residents told us that this large pane of glass had been broken some 10 days before our visit,” inspectors reported. “They also told us that there was a problem with the fire doors. This meant that there had been a problem with fire safety for at least 10 days.

“We were told by the company that the glass was on order and that the electrician had visited to look at the fire door problem.”

The CQC has since been in contact with Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service and asked for a visit to check that the residents of Kirklands are safe in the event of a fire.

Despite the concern, the latest inspection found that a major effort had been implemented since the scathing report, including some staff who had “decided that they would not carry on working at the home”.

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