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Shocking lapses in hygiene uncovered by inspection at Northern Ireland care home

 

By Lisa Smyth

Faeces was discovered on the floor of a shower room in a care home during a health inspection, it can be revealed.

Toilet roll holders and a staff toilet were also stained with faeces at Greenhaw Lodge Care Centre in Londonderry during a visit by an inspector on June 14.

Management of the home was summoned to an urgent meeting with the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) after tje official uncovered shocking lapses in basic hygiene.

Greenhaw Lodge offers specialist care for people with dementia, those at end of life and alcoholics, and charges in excess of £1,000 a week for a place in its specialist dementia unit.

Among the failings found by the RQIA inspector included stained and rusty furniture, dirty dining room tables and chairs, bins overflowing with offensive waste, a bad smell and overflowing bin in a staff toilet, and dust and debris on the floors throughout the home.

And there was no evidence of cleaning in the laundry.

The RQIA inspector said it was very dusty with dust noted on the rims of plastic bins used to transfer patient clothing.

Multiple alcohol gel dispensers were empty or not working, while it was also found that staff weren't cleaning their hands properly or wearing adequate clothing, such as gloves and aprons, to reduce the risk of spreading infection.

The inspection also highlighted staff shortages at the home.

Despite this, enforcement action was not taken by the RQIA.

The company that owns the home, Larchwood Care Homes (NI) Ltd, said areas in the building have since been refurbished and updated.

Margaret Toland, whose husband Joe lives at Greenhaw Lodge, said she had repeatedly raised concerns about conditions, and feels they have not been addressed.

Mr Toland (73), who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's eight years ago and is now in the advanced stages of the disease, has been at the home for the last two years.

"The staff are amazing and I wouldn't have a bad word said about them," said Mrs Toland (65), a retired special needs teacher.

"There are occasions where you have maybe two carers looking after 13 or 14 residents, each of them with their own individual needs.

"The staff are definitely under pressure and I watch the cleaners and they can't do their job properly.

"The mops they have don't seem very clean, and as far as I am concerned, they are just pushing the dirt from one end of the room to the other.

"But at the end of the day, they are doing the best they can with what they have.

"I would like to see the staff valued by the management.

"The whole place needs brought up to date.

"For example, Joe's room is pink with flowery curtains, which isn't appropriate, and they finally put a dining room into his unit by putting some tables and chairs into one of the bedrooms.

"They left the sink and mirror in the corner of the room and the sink has been cracked for weeks and they haven't done anything about it."

SDLP health spokesman Mark H Durkan said he was horrified at the inspection's findings.

"People deserve dignity at the very least and it is upsetting to think that very vulnerable people are living in such filthy conditions," he said.

"I know the staff at the home are heroic in terms of the work they do, which makes you question whether the home is adequately resourced."

Mr Durkan said health trusts who place people in the home should also take more responsibility for ensuring that care homes are meeting basic hygiene standards.

Aidan Hanna from NI Patient Voice said: "We've never seen a worse inspection in terms of cleanliness at any other nursing home in Northern Ireland."

Mr Hanna said Larchwood Care Homes should refund fees to families and health trusts in light of the RQIA findings.

He also said he was concerned that care assistants were working at the home for five months without applying to be registered with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council.

"On a positive note, it is great to see in the report that staff were praised by residents and relatives," he said.

Larchwood Care Homes said: "Following an unannounced care inspection by the RQIA to Greenhaw Lodge on June 14, 2018, some areas for improvement were noted.

"The company worked in conjunction with the regulator following the inspection and areas in the home have since been fully refurbished and the environment updated.

"During the inspection it was recognised and reported by the regulator that 'staff attended to patients' needs in a timely and caring manner' and that 'staff interactions with patients were observed to be compassionate, caring and timely'."

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