Surprise care home inspection finds residents at risk

Exterior of Osbourne Court Care Home in Baldock

Osbourne Court Care Home in Baldock has breached the Health and Social Care Act 2008 - Credit: Google Maps

A care home has received a damning report after a watchdog's unannounced inspection found unsafe practices putting residents at risk of harm.

The Care Quality Commission inspected Osbourne Court Care Home in Park Drive, Baldock, after receiving concerns about the care people were getting, and discovered only 60 per cent of staff had completed training.

Inspectors saw a resident left in their room for three hours with their head between their knees, before a nurse finally intervened and put the person to bed, failing to offer personal care despite the resident's trousers being wet.

Care notes later said the person had refused personal care all day, but inspectors say no personal care was offered during their three-hour observation.

Osbourne Court is a care home for older people, including those with dementia, and inspectors have rated it as requiring improvement when it comes to safety and inadequate in terms of leadership.

They found "widespread and significant shortfalls in service leadership" during their May 26 and June 3 visits and said "leaders did not ensure the delivery of high-quality care".

Staff did not always work safely. For instance, one person assessed as at risk of choking was being assisted to eat while their head was laying back. Staff continued to put food in their mouth, even when inspectors raised concerns.

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The inspection report, published this month, says: "Staff culture did not always display good outcomes for people. One person required encouragement to eat. However, staff did not spend the time needed to ensure they ate. They gave them five minutes, then gave them a yogurt."

Residents had food chosen for them by staff and were encouraged to go to bed after 5.30pm.

Unexplained injuries recorded from March to May this year included 13 incidents of bruises or skin tears, but not all were reported to the local authority or CQC as required.

The most recent COVID-19 outbreak at the care home was due to a staff member not completing a test on arrival to work. Staff were seen not wearing masks correctly, eating their lunch in communal areas having removed their PPE, and testing in the dining room.

The care home has breached the Health and Social Care Act 2008 by failing to consistently promote people's safety and placing people at risk.

However, residents said they felt safe and said staff were kind, with the report saying: "Staff were observed to have positive interactions with people in many cases."

A CQC inspection in January last year revealed a raft of regulation breaches, with concerns over unexplained injuries, infection control and staffing.

A spokesperson for Four Seasons Health Care Group, which owns Osbourne Court, said: “Our hard working teams strive each day to protect everyone in our homes while continuing to manage the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. We deeply regret that, during this time, Osbourne Court has fallen below the standards the CQC requires and we expect.

"Since the inspection in May, we have implemented a comprehensive action plan to address the areas noted in the report, including providing greater support to the home manager, who has been working hard to make improvements at the home since her appointment to the role.

"We are pleased the report recognised our kind and caring colleagues, and we will continue to make the health and wellbeing of our residents our top priority.”