Inspectors feared Falkirk Council care home residents were at risk of ‘serious harm’

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A damning report on a care home for the elderly has led Falkirk Council to vow improvements will be made.

The local authority, which said it took immediate action following the unannounced visit of the Care Inspectorate to Summerford House in Falkirk last month, has now increased staff and put in additional safety checks.

Its residential home in Summerford Road provides long term care, re-ablement and respite services for up to 27 older people.

The Care Inspectorate, Scotland’s watchdog for social work and social care services, found the running of the facility to be “unsatisfactory” in the four areas it assessed: supporting’s resident’s wellbeing; leadership; staffing; and planning of care and support.

It identified a number of major health and safety concerns which put residents, staff and visitors in the home at risk of “serious harm”.

These included not enough information about how elderly and vulnerable residents could be evacuated in the event of a fire. Fire drills not being carried out and safety checks of equipment, including wheelchairs and commodes, had not taken place.

There was also a “high number of falls” experienced by those in the home.

Safety certification could also not be found.

The council was told these issues all had to be addressed immediately.

Residents and their relatives told inspectors that there were not enough staff and those there were had little time to spend with individuals.

The inspection team also found the lounges empty with few activities or entertainment and one resident said they went to bed during the day “to pass the time”.

The re-ablement service, set up as a halfway service between hospital and home to allow people to get back on their feet after illness, was also highlighted as being poor.

People told inspectors they did not feel valued or in control of their lives and felt “stuck”.

Falkirk Council moved quickly to reassure residents and their families that improvement work was underway and they should not be alarmed by the report of the December 11 visit.

Joe McElholm, head of adult social work services, said: “We took immediate action as soon as the issues were highlighted by the Care Inspectorate and have now put in place a series of measures that we believe will meet the standards required by them.

“Many of these issues were based around health and safety concerns as well as local working practices and we stress that this was a one off situation and is not representative of any of our other facilities.

“Faulty equipment has been replaced and a far more robust method of carrying out safety checks put in place.”

He added: “We want to reassure residents and their families that we have put in place new staffing arrangements to ensure that these high standards are maintained. The welfare of residents is our top priority.

“We have co-operated fully with the Care Inspectorate, accepted their findings and will continue to work closely with them to achieve the necessary improvements by their deadline of March 2019.”

Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, Leader of Falkirk Council, said: “Action was taken immediately when the most serious shortcomings were brought to our attention and staff are continuing to work to a plan to ensure all the improvements suggested are put in place.”

In 2015 Falkirk Council revealed plans to close Summerford and Oakbank care home in Polmont, then replace both with one new-build.

Although Oakbank closed two years ago there has been no further news of a replacement.

However, Falkirk Council said this week that discussions are ongoing with NHS Forth Valley.