West Lothian care home which had 17 Covid-19 related deaths in autumn outbreak still rated ‘weak’ by inspectors

A West Lothian care home where 17 residents died following a Covid outbreak in the autumn is still being rated “weak” by inspectors.

Serious concerns were raised previously at Redmill CareHome, East Whitburn, over infection prevention and control practices and staffing levels following inspections there at the end of October.

A new inspection report to Scottish Parliament says a further two visits were made on November 19 which found “progress had been made” in all the areas required - but more improvements are needed to change the “weak” evaluations.

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Care home operator HC-One said it was “deeply sorry” that it previously fell short of standards that residents and families expect, but they say they are “disappointed” that the latest report “does not reflect the full scale of progress that has been made.”

Redmill Care Home in East Whitburn, West Lothian. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
Redmill Care Home in East Whitburn, West Lothian. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

But local Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “It is shocking that we are now more than two months on from when an incident management team was assigned to support Redmill that improvements are so limited that the care inspectorate does not feel able to change their ratings on key areas from ‘weak’.

“How on earth can families have confidence in HC-One and their ability to run Redmill to the highest possible standard? What are the Care Inspectorate going to do about this?”

Redmill was one of the first care homes affected by the second wave of the virus and the first Covid case was detected there on September 25. An incident management team was sent to the home three days later.

A four day inspection was concluded on October 28 and a report described staff struggling to cope, particularly at night. It also highlighted serious concerns with staff infection prevention and control practices - including use of PPE and hand hygiene - and that shared equipment, such as hoists, were not being cleaned between use.

Residents who “walked with purpose” were not always supported to socially distance to reduce transmission risks, according to the report.

Inspectors also highlighted concerns about residents who were dying at the time not getting enough support, stating that staff were “rushed” and did not have time to help them in an “unhurried and calming manner.”

The Care Inspectorate issued a letter of serious concern with six requirements, and although inspectors returned to find some improvements, the requirements remained unmet. The service was rated as ‘weak’ on a six-point scale.

Covid deaths

The operator of the 68-bed care home confirmed that a total of 17 residents have died as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak at the home and a total of 33 residents tested positive at the home.

However, HC-One confirmed that the care home has been Covid free since November 16 and there continues to be no positive cases among staff or residents.

The latest inspection report from November 19, laid before Parliament on December 9, says the care home was cleaner and that maintenance work had started to improve infection prevention and control, and that staff practices had improved and PPE stations were easily accessible to staff.

End of life care, supporting residents’ dietary needs and care for people who “walk with purpose” had also improved.

There were also enough staff to care for people, but tools used to determine the number of staff required and to provide the right support for residents needed to be improved to allow better deployment of staff.

The report continued: “Further work was needed on all the above areas to fully meet the improvements required. We have extended the time for these to be completed.

“We informed West Lothian health and social care partnership of our findings. We did not amend the evaluations of the service because there were still some improvements required.”

The home is still classed as ‘weak’ for categories including infection prevention and control practices, staffing arrangements and people’s health and wellbeing.

Only a summary of the findings is published at this stage and a fully detailed report will be available in the coming weeks.

A further visit will be made to the home to monitor progress and the West Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership has been informed of the findings.

Details on what could happen if Redmill fails to meet requirements remains unclear at this stage.

However more generally, the next steps in the process could involve an enforcement notice being issued and, in cases where there are high safety risks, the care home could be shut down - but this requires approval from a sheriff.

A HC-One spokesperson said: “We are deeply sorry that the home had previously fallen short of the standards we want and that residents and their loved ones rightly expect. We continue to work exceptionally hard to make and sustain improvements which go above and beyond the Care Inspectorate’s feedback.

“However, we are disappointed that the most recent report, from an inspection which took place immediately after the outbreak at the home, does not reflect the full scale of progress that has been made. Following the Care Inspectorate’s previous visits, immediate and significant improvements were made and were noted by the Inspectorate. We will always prioritise the health and wellbeing of our Residents and strive to provide the very best care.

“Colleagues from our senior area team are providing oversight and additional support as the home continues to implement its action plan to ensure a high standard is achieved and maintained at the home, and we will not rest until this has been attained.”

A spokesperson for the West Lothian Health and Social Care partnership, said: “The care home is privately owned and the owners are working with the Care Inspectorate to address the improvements that are required and highlighted in the report.

“The WL HSCP is providing the care home owners with advice and support to assist them in making necessary improvements.”

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