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Care Quality Commission takes action to protect people at Donwell House in Washington

2 December 2016
Donwell House
  • Media

Donwell House, a care home in Washington, Tyne and Wear remains in special measures after the CQC again rated them as Inadequate following an inspection in October this year.

Donwell House provides care for up to 63 people some of whom have nursing needs and/or may be living with dementia. There are two wings at Donwell House; one wing is made up of two residential care units and the other wing has two nursing units.

This service was previously inspected in March this year, and rated Inadequate after CQC inspectors found several breaches of the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

Debbie Westhead, Deputy Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care in the North, said:

“People are entitled to services which provide safe, caring and high quality care. We found that the care provided at Donwell House fell a long way short of what we expect services to provide.

“It is unacceptable that people using these services did not have even their most basic rights to live in a safe environment taken care of. Fire safety was a real concern for us, including inadequate fire detection systems and a very out of date evacuation register. We had previously told Donwell House that they must take action to fix these problems at a previous inspection so it was disappointing to see that none had been taken.

“We were very concerned about the lack of risk assessments at the service. For example people with swallowing difficulties had no risk assessments completed in relation to choking, potentially endangering their safety.

“The way medicines were handled at Donwell House was also a real cause for concern. We found conflicting information in people’s care records about how they should be given medication, and the temperature of the treatment room often exceeded the recommended guidelines meaning the effectiveness of some medicines may have been compromised.

“We are working with local partners including Sunderland City Council to ensure the safety of people using this service”

A registered manager was not registered with the Care Quality Commission at the time of the inspection. A manager was in post but they had only started the role on 3 October 2016.

Routine checks on fire and premises safety had not been completed in a regular and timely manner. At the time of the inspection there was no evidence of an in-date gas safety certificate or in date certificates of lifting operations and lifting equipment regulations.

Care records contained conflicting information, there were no specific and detailed strategies for staff to follow in relation to how to support people or how people wanted to be supported and care records had not been updated to reflect changes in people's needs.

Medicines were not managed in a safe way. There was conflicting information in care records about the form of people's medicines, for example crushed medicines and liquid medicines. There was no evidence of mental capacity assessments, best interest decisions or specific care plans in relation to people whose GP had stated they could have medicines administered covertly. Protocols for the administration of 'as and when required' medicines were often not in place, and where they were in place they lacked specific detail to guide staff on when to administer the medicine.

There was limited engagement and interaction from some staff during mealtimes. We observed one person was supported by three different staff during one meal, another staff member was observed to be touching a person's mouth with a spoonful of food prompting them to open their mouth whilst they were still eating.

CQC are taking action against the provider and will report on this when it is complete. Any regulatory decision that CQC takes is open to challenge by a registered person through a variety of internal and external appeal processes.


For further information please contact CQC Regional Engagement Officer Kerri James by email by phone on 07464 92 9966.

Journalists wishing to speak to the press office outside of office hours can find out how to contact the team here.

Last updated:
29 May 2017

Notes to editors

Providers a required to display their ratings on their premises and on their websites so that the public can see their rating quickly and easily.

About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.