Bosses at a Renfrewshire nursing home have been accused of putting residents in serious danger of catching Covid-19 as a damning inspection report branded their care and support as “weak”.
The Care Inspectorate said there were “significant weaknesses” in the infection control practices at the Erskine Home, in Bishopton, as the watchdog highlighted issues with how personal protective equipment (PPE) was being used and stored and the availability of soap and hand gel.
The report also revealed concerns over the use of shared toiletries, with some used products being stored close to clean PPE.
And on one occasion, the report states inspectors had to intervene as staff were about to prepare a bath for a resident without cleaning it from a previous use.
But the Erskine charity has hit back and suggested the comments in the report are not “fully reflective” of the “incredible” work which goes on at the home for veterans.
Inspectors stated in their report: “We evaluated how well infection control practices support a safe environment for people experiencing care and staff.
“We concluded there were strengths, but these were compromised by significant weaknesses. When added together, these weaknesses substantially increased people’s risk of infection and required critical improvement action.
“On one occasion we had to intervene to stop staff from preparing a bath for a resident that had not been cleaned after its most recent use. This showed a lack of diligence and risk awareness that, if repeated, could pose a severe risk to people’s health.
“Not all staff followed good practice for hand hygiene. We found access to alcohol-based hand gel for staff needed to improve. We found not all soap dispensers in areas where staff or residents could wash their hands were working and this made it difficult for staff to ensure their hands were decontaminated at appropriate times.
“We found several examples where PPE was not appropriately stored. Examples included PPE being stored in openly communal areas and in bathroom cupboards in close proximity to frequently touched toiletries.
“Not all staff were following good practice for PPE. We observed not all staff wore aprons when in direct contact with a resident or their equipment. Training for the use of PPE needed to improve.
“We also observed the common use of shared toiletries in some of the houses. There was a lack of staff awareness of how the shared toiletries increased the risk of infection. This was demonstrated by used toiletries being stored in close proximity to clean PPE.”
The home – which consists of six houses and looks after more than 160 residents – has been given several requirements it must now meet and bosses have already insisted they have acted upon the concerns raised.
Despite their criticisms of infection control practices, inspectors said staff were “motivated and demonstrated resilience” in the face of the pandemic’s challenges and complimented the arrangements in place to maintain social distancing.
The watchdog also said staffing was flexible and responsive to the changing needs of residents, while the environment and equipment were described as “clean and well maintained”.
A spokesman for Erskine said: “The care, well-being, and safety of our residents is our first priority. Each year we fundraise and spend £11million more than we receive in fees, to ensure that our enhanced staffing ratios, specialist nursing roles, allied health professionals, and quality management teams are all in place.
“We had two very positive, documented assurance visits from the health board during 2020, including one in December.
“While we take this recent Care Inspectorate report very seriously, and immediately acted upon it, we do not believe it is fully reflective of the
incredible work that goes on in our Bishopton home.
“Erskine is a transparent, learning organisation, and we pride ourselves on working to continuously improve. Therefore, we have made the necessary changes required by the inspectors and will review our training regimes and policies to ensure that any lessons identified are demonstrably embedded in practice.
“We are confident that any subsequent inspections will more fully reflect the standard of our practice.”
Story by local democracy reporter Stephanie Brawn