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Why January 2020 was a bad month for care homes

So far 2020 has seen a run of bad luck for care homes as multiple closures, a council investigation and a poor CQC rating hit three areas in the space of a few weeks. 

Third inadequate rating in a row

St Nicholas Care Home in Sheringham, Norfolk was shut down on 24 January following its third consecutive 'inadequate' CQC rating. 
The care home was operated by ADR Care Homes, which also runs Hill House and Keneydon House – rated by the CQC as 'good' and 'requires improvement' respectively.
Following the most recent inspection, carried out in November but only published last week, the CQC report began: “At this inspection we found a continuation of failings at this service. Sufficient action had still not been taken to address the seven breaches of the regulations we found at our previous inspections in November 2018 and May 2019. At this inspection in November 2019, we found an additional breach of the regulations.” 
Continued breaches concerned failures to implement robust governance systems, which included a manager in post for 9 months who had not been registered as a care home manager with the CQC. Residents’ care records contained “incorrect and inconsistent” information and a safeguarding incident had not been reported.
As well as failures over privacy and leadership, the report said cleanliness was an issue and infection control measures were poor. 

Seven care homes in one area set to closeSpinney - care homes under threat

Over in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, an online petition was launched by relatives of those living in The Spinney after the council moved to close the facility along with six others. 
Put on the chopping block by Derbyshire Council Council (DCC) due to the need for extensive repairs, the Spinney was deemed to have been below the required standard for local residents. 
Surveys carried out in the seven homes found that even after remedial repair work was carried out, standards were still low and the layout of the homes impractical for use with disabled residents. 
Karen Tracey, who started the Change.org petition to save The Spinney as her grandmother resides there, said: “When we heard the news that The Spinney, amongst other local care homes, was likely going to be closed we were very upset. Not just for the residents, who will likely need to be placed elsewhere, breaking up friendships and social bonds, but also for the dedicated staff who work there.”
Helen Jones, DCC’s head of adult and social care, said the closures were “regrettable” but cited a number of health and safety risks, including faulty electrics and roofing, as the reason for the decision.
As the seven care homes are under threat of closure, three have been earmarked for refurbishment to improve standards. A consultation with the public is launching on 31 January. 

Legionella risk at care home

Meanwhile, a Shrewsbury care home was rated 'inadequate' due to poor medicine storage and the potential risk of Legionella in unflushed water pipes.
Although the caring, responsiveness and effectiveness of Coton Hill House was deemed to be good, the overall CQC rating was 'requires improvement' as safety and leadership were called into question during the inspection on 2 January. 
Coton Hill House, which is run by Coverage Care Services Limited, had failed to record the required safety checks for Legionella – despite some rooms with sinks and taps remaining vacant for long periods, which creates the perfect environment for Legionella to thrive.
Medicine had also been stored in a fridge past the recommended 90 days after opening, and then given to a resident. 
The report said: “These issues were a breach of regulation 12 (Safe Care and Treatment) of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014.”