Darlington’s Willow Green care home rated ‘requires improvement’ by CQC

A care home has been told it must improve its service after a recent inspection by a regulator found issues with its leadership.

Willow Green care home, Eastborne Road, Darlington, provides personal and nursing care for up to 63 adults living with a range of conditions including dementia – but has been rated requires improvement by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after an inspection in June and July .

Inspectors said the review was prompted due to concerns over infection control, people’s nutrition and the overall management of the service.

The facility was previously rated ‘good’ in May 2021 but the latest review exposed several issues, according to the CQC.

But St Martins Care, the parent company which operates Willow Green, said it disputes the report’s findings and is working with the regulator to improve.

Care homes across the UK continue to experience the brunt of challenges faced by the social care sector including a lack of funding and recruitment.

Read more: Health Secretary outlines new NHS England plans, including £500m for social care

The inspection report read: “People did not always have their medicines as prescribed or at the correct times. Systems to manage and audit medicines were ineffective and did not identify all the issues found at inspection.

“Record keeping was inconsistent. Support plans and risk assessments did not always give staff clear guidance about potential risks and some plans lacked essential details. The provider had not taken enough action to reduce potential fire and safety risks.”

The report also noted how there was a lack of “trained, skilled and appropriately supervised staff” to provide person centered care but acknowledged how the Covid-19 pandemic had made it difficult to employ extra staff.

And the majority of people and relatives interviewed by officers praised the staff for their support. The CQC said they were told those working at the care home are “caring and worked hard to compensate for the shortage of staff”.

The care home provider said publication of the report had been delayed due to it disputing some of the CQC’s findings.

“This inspection took place three months ago, the delay to publication has been due to our challenge to the findings, a process that continues,” said group chief executive officer Keith Milton.

“We firmly believe that the CQC report does not accurately reflect the care provided at Willow Green today, a view shared by many of the residents and their families. St Martins Care is committed to delivering high quality care and support, despite the significant challenges adult social care continues to face with a range of issues including Covid, lack of funding and recruitment.

“However, we continue to invest and improve in all aspects of our service at Willow Green, and we are confident that the service at Willow Green is safe, supportive, and caring.”

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