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Improvements made at care home but more needed

Birchwood Care Home in Newbury has been rated as ‘Requiring Improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The report, published recently, follows an inspection visit between 31 May and 4 June this year.

West Berkshire Council took over Birchwood in challenging circumstances in June 2017 and began implementing an action plan to bring standards at Birchwood into line with their other care homes (which are all rated ‘Good’) and to offer ten ‘step down’ beds to help speed the recovery of people who would otherwise have to stay in a hospital.

Among the highlights of the report are:

  • People were not always kept safe

  • The provider did not have robust systems in place to ensure sufficient suitably qualified or safe staff were employed to work with people

  • Medicines were not always managed safely

  • The language and approach of staff was not always respectful

In November 2017, the CQC rated Birchwood as ‘Inadequate’. The council was disappointed with this judgement, but acknowledged that the work needed to bring it up to the council’s high standards would take more than the four month period on which the CQC had judged.

This new report moves the rating up one level, which the council understands is the maximum increase that the CQC allows given the previous ‘Inadequate’ rating.

Graham Bridgman, West Berkshire’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care, said: “We knew that this would be the best rating that we would get because of the CQC policy that meant we could not jump more than one grade, but we take on board all of the issues raised.

“Having said this, the Inspection was in May and we have never said that this was our finished product – when I visited Birchwood last month I found the manager and staff enthusiastic about the care they were providing, and a great deal of work being undertaken to further improve the facilities for residents.

“We are already seeing positive feedback from residents, relatives and staff and, whilst there are always lessons to be learned, it is our firm intention to make changes that are sustainable. This may take a little longer than both we and the CQC would like but it is vital that we work towards long term improvement.”

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