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Archived: The Old Farmhouse / The Briars Good

The provider of this service changed - see new profile


Inspection carried out on 22 July 2016

During a routine inspection

This inspection took place on 22 July 2016 and was announced. We gave 24 hours’ notice of the inspection to ensure it was safe for us to visit while the final redevelopment building work was being completed. It also ensured the service’s registered manager would be available to meet us.

At the last inspection on 13 March 2015 we found the service was not consistently safe, effective, or well led. Improvements were required in each of these areas. The shortcomings were primarily due to delays in starting the planned major site redevelopment work. At this inspection, the required actions had been taken to address our previous concerns. The redevelopment work was virtually complete and new systems had been introduced to ensure people received their medicines safely.

Relatives said the recent accommodation moves had gone better than they had anticipated. One person’s relative said “They built up their confidence and anticipate things before they happen. They don’t just chuck them in at the deep end”. Another relative said “I’m very happy where [person’s name] is. They’ve improved a lot since moving into their new place”.

The service is registered to provide accommodation and support for up to eight adults with a learning disability or autistic spectrum condition. The redevelopment of the site has reduced the capacity to a maximum of six people, accommodated in five self-contained flats (with two people sharing one of the large flats). On completion of the redevelopment the provider will apply to change their registration accordingly.

People who lived at the location needed one to one staff support at all times. Three of the people with more complex needs also required two to one staff support when going out into the local community. At the time of the inspection there were six people living at the location with complex support and communication needs. People had very limited or no verbal communication skills and required staff support with all of their personal care needs and to go out into the community.

The service had a registered manager. A registered manager is a person who has registered with the Care Quality Commission to manage the service. Like registered providers, they are ‘registered persons’. Registered persons have legal responsibility for meeting the requirements in the Health and Social Care Act 2008 and associated Regulations about how the service is run.

The registered manager told us the service philosophy was “To support each person to meet their individual needs and enable them to lead as full a life as possible”. Staff received training tailored to the personal needs of the people living at the location to ensure they were able to deliver the philosophy of care. This was further reinforced through staff meetings, shift handovers and one to one staff supervision sessions. There were sufficient numbers of staff to keep people safe and meet their needs.

All of the interactions we observed between staff and people were caring and supportive. It was clear the registered manager and the staff had people’s best interests in mind and tried to provide as good a lifestyle as possible for them. Relatives told us the staff and management were open and accessible and had a good understanding of people’s complex needs and behaviours. Relatives were always made welcome and were encouraged to visit as often as they wished. One relative said “Staff are really brilliant. I can’t fault them”. Another relative said “Staff come across as very professional and very caring, they have the balance just right”.

People had choice and control over their daily lives to the extent they were able to express their preferences. People were supported by their key workers to express their feelings and preferences. Staff respected and acted on the choices people made. The service knew how to protect people’s rights when they lacked the mental capacity to make certain decisions about their care and welfare. People also had acces

Inspection carried out on 13 March 2015

During a routine inspection

This inspection took place on 13 March 2015 and was unannounced.

At the last inspection on 5 June 2014 we found there were breaches of legal requirements. We asked the provider to make improvements to the safety and suitability of premises and the timeliness of their response to identified concerns. We received a provider action plan stating the relevant legal requirements would be met by 31 July 2014. At this inspection we followed this up and found the urgent actions had been completed. However, there had been a delay in starting the major site redevelopment work detailed in the provider action plan. Also at this inspection we identified improvements were needed to ensure the safe administration of medicines.

The service provides accommodation and support for up to eight adults with a learning disability or autistic spectrum disorder. At the time of the inspection there were six people living in the home with complex care and communication needs. People had very limited verbal communication skills and required individual staff support with all of their personal care needs and to go out into the community. The location currently consists of three premises; the main building called The Old Farmhouse, the adjoining The Briars and a stand-alone mobile home known as the Sherbourne unit.

The service had a registered manager. A registered manager is a person who has registered with the Care Quality Commission to manage the service. Like registered providers, they are ‘registered persons’. Registered persons have legal responsibility for meeting the requirements in the Health and Social Care Act 2008 and associated Regulations about how the service is run.

Although interim actions had been taken to improve people’s living accommodation the premises were not fully suited to people’s complex care needs. Improvements to the layout and design of the premises were still required, as identified at our last inspection. The start of the redevelopment work had slipped again to May 2015.

At this inspection we found there had been several medicine errors relating to poor recording and the administration of the wrong medicine. People had not suffered harm but there was a potential risk because staff were sometimes distracted while administering people’s medicines. We have made a recommendation to improve the management of medicines.

In all other respects people were protected from the risk of abuse and avoidable harm through appropriate policies, procedures and staff training. Records showed there had been a significant reduction in incidents due to additional staffing, interim changes to people’s accommodation and staff training in understanding people’s sensory needs.

There were enough staff to meet people’s complex needs and to keep them safe. Staff received training tailored to each person’s individual support and communication needs. People were supported to go out into the local community most days of the week. Staff also supported people to visit their relatives and to go on family holidays. Relatives told us the staff were very friendly and considerate and had a good understanding of people’s needs and behaviours.

People had access to external healthcare professionals to help them maintain their physical and mental health. One person’s relative said “(Their relative) is very well looked after and well cared for when they are ill”.

People were supported by their key worker to express any issues or concerns or they could do so through their relatives or their social worker. Relatives and staff told us the registered manager operated an open door policy and was accessible and visible around the home. One relative said “They always say, just tell them if I am worried about anything at all. I only need to mention something and it gets sorted out”. Relatives told us they were always made welcome and were encouraged to visit the home as often as they wished.

Staff said everyone pulled together as a team and the senior staff and registered manager were very approachable and supportive.

Inspection carried out on 5 June 2014

During a routine inspection

We considered all the evidence we had gathered under the outcomes we inspected. We used the information to answer the five questions we always ask:

� Is the service caring?

� Is the service responsive?

� Is the service safe?

� Is the service effective?

� Is the service well led?

This is a summary of what we found:

Is the service caring?

We observed the manager and staff were caring and kind with the people who lived in the home. They did everything they could to ensure people received good quality personalised care and support. One member of staff said �Everyone cares about the people here, it�s not just a job. It�s nice to see people happy�.

The people who lived in the home had complex care needs and were unable to fully express their views verbally. We therefore spoke to some of their close relatives to obtain their views about the care provided. Relatives were very complimentary about the support people received. One relative said �The most important feedback to me is the staff tell me they like Y (their relative who lived in the home) and enjoy caring for Y. I can tell they are genuine and this gives me confidence�. Relatives also said staff were very helpful in supporting people to maintain regular contact with their families.

Staff were very caring but people were let down by the layout and condition of the premises. One relative said �The home needs to be made more homely. It�s all a bit stark�. This reflected our own observations. When we toured the premises we found the condition of most areas was just adequate and some areas were in a poor state of maintenance and repair.

Is the service responsive?

The manager and staff in the home were responsive to people�s preferences and support needs. However, the provider had not responded effectively or in a timely manner to people�s need for improved individual living space. Interim accommodation changes had been made but the planned reconfiguration of the home had been delayed. It was over a year since our last inspection but there was still no definitive start date for work to begin.

Areas of the home, plant and equipment were in need of repair or replacement. There were delays in responding to these issues which adversely affected the quality of people�s care. For example, there was a long standing fault with the boiler in the home which meant the hot water supply was unpredictable. This meant people often had to have a strip wash rather than shower or bath. A member of staff said �The managers are fighting for the right things but the organisation�s bureaucracy means nothing gets done quickly�.

People who lived in the home and their close relatives were invited to contribute to care plan reviews. We saw revisions were made to take account of changes in people�s needs or preferences. Staff provided care and support which respected the person's individual needs and preferences. A relative said �The staff are all wonderful. They are always very helpful and I can talk to any one of them�.

Is the service safe?

Since our inspection on 29 April 2013 various changes had been implemented to ensure people were safe from physical harm. Additional staffing had been put in place and one of the people had moved to a more appropriate care setting. Interim accommodation changes had taken place to resolve some of the behavioural compatibility issues between people living in the home.

Staff told us there had been a dramatic reduction in the number of incidents of self-harm and incidents between people. One member of staff said �Everyone is safe and well�, another member of staff said �We have enough staff to keep people safe�.

Relatives told us their family members were always happy to return to the care home after holidays and outings. This showed their relatives were happy living in the home and they did not have concerns about returning. One relative said �I don�t worry about X, I do feel they�re safe�. Another relative said �Since the change in accomodation arrangements I feel Y is safe�.

We saw care plans included a range of individual risk assessments and actions for managing these risks. These had been agreed with appropriate professionals and family members in order to keep people safe. Plans for managing individual risks were recorded in people�s care plans and reviewed on a regular basis.

The Care Quality Commission is required by law to monitor the operation of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards which applies to care homes. The manager said no one in the home had been deprived of their liberty. However, they knew when a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards application should be made and who to go to if an application was required.

Is the service effective?

Staff were effective in meeting people�s individual care and support needs. In our conversations with staff they demonstrated a good understanding of each person�s needs and preferences. One member of staff said �We all know what we are doing and the guidelines to follow with each individual�.

Staff received appropriate training and development which gave them the skills and knowledge needed to provide a safe and appropriate standard of care.

Relatives said they were happy with the care and support provided. One relative said �X gets very good care, I�ve got no complaints�. Another relative said �They are working to get the best for Y. In general Y is healthy and happy�.

Records showed people had access to a wide range of health professionals. This included GPs, dentists, speech and language therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, behavioural specialists, occupational therapists and learning disability nurses.

The layout of the premises did not support people�s care and welfare needs. People in the main house were protected from physical harm but sometimes became distressed when other people were in near proximity or were making a lot of noise. One individual who was becoming unsteady on their feet had to use the stairs to access their bedroom.

Is the service well led?

The person who managed the home was registered with the Care Quality Commission as the registered manager for the service. We asked relatives whether they thought the service was well led. One relative said �I think the manager is wonderful and all the staff are really very good. I can approach the manager to discuss anything�. Another relative said �The manager is very understanding and approachable�.

There was a clear staffing structure in place with clear lines of reporting and accountability. Staff told us they were well supported by the manager, team leaders and other colleagues. One member of staff said �This is the best place I�ve ever worked. Everyone is really supportive�. Another member of staff said �The managers are good role models and are always prepared to muck in when needed. I think the problem is they have to battle with the layers above them�. One of the agency staff we spoke with said �The manager and team leaders treat everyone with respect. The team leaders are very informative and direct the staff well�.

Although the day to day management of the home was good, the provider�s quality monitoring systems were not effective in managing risks to people�s health and welfare. Where management had identified risks, the provider had not taken timely or effective action to address these risks. There had been delays in the planned reconfiguration of the home and maintenance of the building, plant and equipment was not up to standard.

Inspection carried out on 29 April 2013

During a routine inspection

People who lived at the home were unable to fully express their views verbally. We therefore spent time observing care practices and talking with staff, as well as speaking with people who lived at the home.

We saw that people were treated respectfully by staff. They were able to make choices about their day to day lives. People used various forms of communication, such as sign language, which enabled them to express their views and make choices. They were well supported by a consistent staff team. Staff were available when people needed them.

People appeared very comfortable and relaxed with the staff who supported them. People were supported by a wide range of health and social care professionals according to their individual needs.

Staff we spoke with understood the various signs of abuse and knew what action they needed to take to ensure people were safe. People who used the service were not adequately protected from the negative effects of other people's behaviour.

People were at risk due to the design and layout of the home. This was not suitable to meet the current or changing needs of people who lived there. Parts of the home had not been adequately maintained.

The home had systems in place to monitor the quality of care provided. Since the last inspection work had been ongoing to address issues identified by the quality monitoring systems.

Inspection carried out on 24 October 2012

During a routine inspection

At the time of this inspection there were seven people living at the home. One person was away visiting family but we were able to meet with all six people at the home at some point in the day.

People who lived at the home were unable to fully express themselves verbally. We observed that staff used a variety of methods to enable people to make choices. Staff spoken with told us about the methods that people used to communicate and we saw that these methods were also recorded in support plans. This made sure that all staff were aware of how people communicated their wishes.

All staff spoken with demonstrated a good knowledge of the needs and abilities of the people who lived at the home. This meant that staff were able to respond appropriately to people�s needs and wishes.

There were records of visits and consultations with health and social care professionals. These records showed the reason for the consultation and the outcome, including recommendations for actions. Records demonstrated that people�s health and welfare was monitored and action was taken when concerns were highlighted.

A team of senior staff had been put in place and rotas seen showed that there was always a senior member of staff on duty. All staff spoken with said that the appointment of a strong senior team had made a difference to the quality of care provided. One member of staff commented �the senior team means there is real leadership now."

Inspection carried out on 2 March 2012

During an inspection in response to concerns

Most people who lived in the home had communication difficulties so we were not able to ask them about life in the home. One person did speak with us on our arrival and they told us they were fine and they were planning on going out for the morning.

The permanent staff explained they were always extremely busy with many, often conflicting, demands from the people who live in the home. They told us people did not always have their needs met and on some days they are �not even really doing the basics�. This was clearly a very stressful working environment and experienced staff simply did not have enough time to meet each person's needs day to day. Some staff described their day as rushing around from one part of the home to another to help agency staff cope.

We asked staff what life was like for people in the home. One staff member said �the service users are just so confused. We need to give them the quality of care they deserve and they are just not getting that. We do our best but when you are on with agency staff people don�t get the care they need and they don�t get out at all. We use agency staff everyday. Some people here have a really wide range of needs, have challenging behaviour and are difficult to build relationships with so they really need experienced permanent staff. Both the service users and staff are put in really vulnerable situations�.

The records we looked at and the staff we spoke with confirmed people who lived in the home were not always safe. The local authority had recently begun a safeguarding process to protect all of the people who lived at the home following serious concerns about people�s safety being raised by social workers.

Some people were not able to tell us if they felt safe in the home so we asked staff about this. One staff member said �I don�t think all the service users are safe every day. I don�t think they are always safe from each other�. Another staff member told us �people are not always safe. We have too many agency staff here who know nothing about the service users. The staff are not safe all the time either. I don�t feel safe all the time due to the staffing situation and the service user�s behaviours�.

The provider had noted in their plan discussed at the recent safeguarding meeting that �immediate improvements� to the environment were needed, including decorations and soft furnishings. They also noted that the current layout of the home was �not fit for purpose for the existing service user group�.

Staff could not consistently meet people's needs and there was a rushed, sometimes chaotic feel to the home. We asked staff how this impacted on people living at the home. One staff member told us �we only have seven or eight of our own staff now who are good, experienced and confident. Sometimes we have five agency staff on and only two of our own staff. That�s just no good here. It�s dangerous. Some agency staff are great but others do very little and some are just not up to it so we have asked them not to come again. The service users are the priority and they suffer because of the lack of good staff�. Permanent staff were very committed to the people who lived in the home and to each other. Staff told us this is the only reason some of them have remained working here.

When issues which affected the care and safety of people who lived in the home or areas for improvement had been identified, there was no evidence that any action had been taken. It was clear that the issues identified during this inspection had existed in the home for some considerable time, certainly as far back as 2010. These issues had been raised by the home�s manager through routine monitoring of the home and at manager�s meetings. All of the issues within the home had a significant negative impact on the care and welfare of the people who lived in the home.

Reports under our old system of regulation (including those from before CQC was created)