‘Clinical’ dementia care home told to improve for THIRD time by watchdog

A care home described as ‘clinical’ and ‘institutionalised’ has been told to improve for the THIRD time by a watchdog. Hilltop Court Nursing Home, in Stockport, provides nursing and specialist care for up to 47 older people living with dementia.

It is run by Harbour Healthcare, which says the facility offers a ‘warm, welcoming and friendly environment’ for residents, as well as visiting friends and family. But it has now been rated as ‘requires improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for the third consecutive time in three years, having last been graded as good in 2019.

Inspectors visited the Dodge Hill home in March, and found it was ‘clean’, staff knew how to safeguard people from harm and health and safety checks had been completed. However, despite a recommendation at the last inspection, they ‘identified multiple and repeated breaches’ of care regulations.

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Although recruitment was ‘safe’, officials found staff still needed to improve their ‘interactions’ with the people they care for. The inspection report reads: “Some staff were attentive and caring; however, we observed some staff did not always interact with people or speak kindly.”

It adds: “We saw three instances where people were being told to ‘sit down’ when they wished to get up and walk around the home. We raised a safeguarding alert with the local authority when one staff member spoke loudly and sharply to one person.”

Officials also noted that some areas within the accommodation felt ‘clinical and not homely’. “Parts of the home appeared institutionalised, and people’s rooms were sparse and not personalised,” the report adds.

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“We saw some areas of the home had been made dementia friendly; however, we also saw areas that required improvement to make the environment more conducive to people living with dementia.”

At mealtimes there was a shortage of dining tables which meant some people were not appropriately positioned to eat their meals, remaining seated in armchairs in the lounge area.

The report notes: “Staff practice varied and we observed some very respectful interactions but also observed some poor practice. For example, staff standing over people whilst they assisted them to eat their meal. Some people were struggling to eat their meals with dignity and may have benefitted from some specialist cutlery or adaptations that was individual to their needs.”

Further shortcomings includes not always managing medicines safely – which placed people at risk of harm. For example, residents did not have written guidance in place for staff to follow when medicines were prescribed. This meant staff did not have the information to tell them when someone may need the medicine or how much to give.

However, officials found improvements had been made in the provision of oral healthcare and bedroom privacy since the last inspection. The report also notes that the provider ‘was transparent and responsive throughout the inspection and took action to attempt to mitigate the risks we identified’.

The management team were said to be ‘helpful and quick to investigate when we fed back our findings during the inspection’. Harbour Healthcare was told to send the CQC a report detailing the action it is going to take to address the home’s shortcomings.

The watchdog will then reinspect the premises to check that this has been implemented. Harbour Healthcare has been contacted for comment.

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