Carers regularly cut short home visits to patients for months without management intervention, a report on a council-run care service has revealed.
Inspectors who carried out an unannounced visit to Midlothian Council’s Care At Home service revealed that vulnerable clients were regularly missing out on their allocated care time.
And they said the practice of cutting visits short went on for many months without intervention, saying: “This did not give us confidence that outcomes for people were good, nor confidence the pattern would not be noticed.”
However, the damning Care Inspectorate report is being challenged by the local authority, who insist they have been working hard to make improvements.
They said they are keen to work with the body to establish how “improvements we’re seeing on the ground can be more fairly translated into positive scores in our next inspection”.
The Care Inspectorate report, published last week, branded staff and management in the service “weak”, saying there was a lack of certainty about whether staff were trained or their “competence generally”.
It is the third year running that the quality of management and leadership in the service has received the low grading.
Inspectors raised concerns about the competence of some staff when it came to moving and handling skills, as well as giving medication.
They said: “It was recognised that a significant amount of staff either had not been trained in moving and handling or this training quality could not be verified.
“This was a concern given that many people receiving the service needed help to move about, either with equipment or without. We were concerned this could lead to an accident.
“Also, we could not determine exactly how many staff had been trained in medication and we were concerned that errors caused here due to lack of competence could pose significant risks for outcomes to people.”
The report did acknowledge that more than half of people using the service who were sent questionnaires had returned them and “overall people and relatives were very happy or happy with the quality of care they received”.
Feedback from clients said the majority of carers were friendly, professional and hard working; however, they felt they could stay longer.
The local authority defended the Care at Home service and is challenging some of the findings in the report by the Care Inspectorate.
A Midlothian Council spokeswoman for older people’s services sought to reassure those using the service.
She said: “We are committed to providing the best possible care for our vulnerable adults and welcome the report’s findings that clients and relatives were happy or very happy with the quality of care they received.
“We would like to reassure residents we have been working incredibly hard to make improvements to our Care at Home services over the last 12 months and have made significant improvements.
“Staff training is and will remain a priority for us and we are pleased with the improvements that the service has made in that area.i
“While we have written to the Care Inspectorate to challenge some of the findings, we are keen to work with them to establish how improvements we’re seeing on the ground can be more fairly translated into positive scores in our next inspection.”
Overall, the Care Inspectorate issued 12 requirements for the service to improve; however, the report also revealed that five of eight requirements demanded over previous inspections had not been met.
In November last year, following an investigation into a complaint against the service which was upheld, the Care Inspectorate ordered the service to review the skills and competencies of all staff and introduce regular checks and training.