Security and medication training has improved, say care homes

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TWO Borders care homes claim to have improved their service after critical inspections earlier this year.

Both Galahill House in Galashiels and Deanfield in Hawick were labelled “weak” by Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland in one of four areas of performance marked by their officers.

Concerns at Galahill centred on the quality of staffing after inspectors walked into the building late at night without being challenged, while Deanfield were marked down after reports that the Roadhead home was “short staffed” and “serious” medication errors had taken place.

SCSWIS inspectors Mandy Falconer and Sally Gellatly made an unannounced visit to 24-bed Galahill House at 9.30pm on March 23 and returned for two days later in the month.

The report said: “When the officers arrived at the care home they rung the door bell and received no response.

“The officers entered the home and went into the lounge area. They had to look for a staff member to inform them of their arrival.”

The report said a front door notice stated the building was locked after 9pm, yet both officers walked straight into the building.

It added: “This could have been any member of the public and this is leaving vulnerable people at risk.

“Also staff would have had no awareness of a service user leaving the building at this time.”

The officers, while praising the quality of care and support, were also concerned by the level of staff training given to dispensing of medication.

They said: “Staff felt they should have a better awareness of the types of medication and what they are used for as well as more training on side effects and how to look for them.”

However, Giuseppe Faraoni, operations manager with Mansfield Care Limited which runs Galahill House as well as homes in Peebles and Melrose, said a subsequent inspection in June has seen a “dramatic improvement” in its grading.

“We have moved up from a two (weak) to a four (good) for staffing at Galahill and all of Mansfield Care Limited’s homes have ‘four’ ratings,” Mr Faraoni added.

Meanwhile, inspector Sandra Thompson visited Deanfield – run by Scottish Borders Council – for two days at the beginning of May.

Although she rated the quality of staffing at the 35-bed home as good, the inspector was worried about care and support at the residential centre.

She added: “We spoke with residents and relatives who told us that staff were ‘run off their feet’ and the home was ‘short staffed’.

“Residents stated that staff did not have enough time to talk to them.”

And regarding medication issues, she wrote: “We saw at this inspection that the manager had put in a number of systems to try to eliminate drug errors within the service.

“However, at this inspection, we found a number of occasions where drugs had not been signed off by staff.

“We examined incident records and found three recent occasions (since January) where serious drug errors had occurred and advice from the residents’ GP needed to be sought.”

SBC’s head of social care and health, Elaine Torrance, said a “small number of medication errors” were highlighted in the report which the home had already acted upon.

She told us: “In addition, there was a view that some staff were under pressure when delivering care. These issues were reflected in the gradings awarded for the home.

“The inspection report noted ‘staff spoken with were highly motivated in their work and committed to providing a high standard of care’ and ‘were seen to have developed good relationships with residents and interacted with them in a warm and friendly manner’.

“An action plan has been developed and a number of immediate steps have been taken to rectify these matters to ensure that all people using the service continue to receive a high quality of care which is appreciated by those using the service and their carers.

“We will be closely monitoring the action plan and look forward to improvements being reflected in the next inspection visit.”