‘Unsafe and ineffective’: Inspectors critical of Seaham home for autistic adults

Privite Drive that leads to Eastholme, Dene House Road, Seaham.
Privite Drive that leads to Eastholme, Dene House Road, Seaham.
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A residential home catering for autistic adults has been criticised by a watchdog for being unsafe, ineffective and breaching the Health and Social Care Act.

The report follows an unannounced inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) of Eastholme, in Seaham, on November 3 and 4.

We will expect them to provide us with a full plan, setting out how they will address the issue

Debbie Westhead, CQC

While inspectors noted many positive sides to the home, the report found that accidents and incidents were not consistently recorded and that staff training was not up to date.

Care records at the home, which provides care and accommodation for up to four people with autistic spectrum disorder or other learning disabilities, had also not been updated with its clients’ dietary needs.

The facility, which operates under general manager Louise Varley, was found in breach of Regulation 17 (Good Governance) of the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

“The service was not always maintaining an accurate, complete and contemporaneous record in respect of each service user,” the report read.

It also did not comply with Regulation 18 (Staffing)

The report added: “Staff did not receive such appropriate training as is necessary to enable them to carry out the duties they are employed to perform.”

The manager was on sick leave at the time of the inspection and legally responsible for the home being compliant. There was, however, cover in place at the time.

“We have asked the provider to send us a report that says what action they are going to take,” the report read.

“We did not take formal enforcement action at this stage. We will check that this action is taken by the provider.”

Eastholme passed the last inspection, which was carried out on September 17, 2013.

The report also said that the staffing numbers were sufficient to meet the needs of the three people using the service at the time, and that checks were made when recruiting staff.

It said that people were protected against the risks associated with the unsafe use and management of medicines and that the home was clean, spacious and suitable.

People who used the service, and family members, were also complimentary about the standard of care at Eastholme.

Debbie Westhead, CQC’s deputy chief inspector for adult social care in the north, said: “People are entitled to services which provide safe, effective, compassionate and high-quality care. If that is what we find on inspection – we give the service a rating of good, or outstanding.

“If we find that a service requires improvement, we will expect them to provide us with a full plan, setting out how they will address the issue.

“We will share our findings with local commissioners, and we will return in due course to check that they have made the required improvements.

“Whenever we find a service to be inadequate, we will consider taking further action on behalf of the people who use the service.”

Swanton chief executive, Dr Alison Rose-Quirie said: “Overall the report is very positive and the CQC has highlighted some excellent performance – particularly the staff engagement and deep knowledge of those they support.”

“There were very few areas found to require improvement, these related to training and incidents that were not properly recorded, but I am pleased to say that there wasn’t anything in the CQC report that our comprehensive internal audit process had not already picked up, and we were already addressing at the time of the inspection.

“These improvements will of course be continued and sustained.”