Inspectors who investigated a crisis-stricken Perth care home while a coronavirus outbreak swept through its staff and residents have revealed they immediately had “significant concerns about cleanliness”.
The Courier revealed that a Covid-19 breakout had infected multiple residents and employees at Louisebrae Care Home in Tulloch last month as the vaccination programme was being rolled out.
Care inspectorate officials have now given a damning verdict on the home’s handling throughout the pandemic.
Residents’ relatives, who have been barred entry for almost a year, say they are shocked.
Management had already been lambasted by family members who were denied requests to speak to infected relatives at the time.
A specialised incident management team (IMT) was set up by the local health and social care partnership to handle the “significant” outbreak which put the home’s 55 residents at risk.
Many permanent staff were absent due to the outbreak of infection and a public sector intervention was required to prop up the hamstrung labour force.
Chiefs at the home refused to comment when faced with the allegations of families being refused contact and failed to disclose how many residents had returned positive Covid-19 test results.
As staff were dealing with the active outbreak in mid January, a team of Care Inspectorate investigators arrived without warning to scrutinise their handling of the outbreak.
‘I am shocked at this report’
Residents’ relatives, who haven’t been allowed inside for almost a year, said they were surprised and dismayed by the report.
One told The Courier: “I am shocked at this report. It will be a year since family have been able to visit inside Louisebrae, therefore I’m not aware of the circumstances inside.
“Short staffing levels was a thought I always had as phones are either ringing out or it can usually take numerous attempts at getting an answer to ask to speak to family.
“Video calls have not been offered.
“I’m very sad reading this report. Most staff are exceptional and care greatly.”
Shortly after arriving, inspectors furnished bosses with a letter of serious concern and ultimately branded their level of care and support as “weak” across all categories.
The reporter said: “On our first visit [January 18] we had significant concerns about the cleanliness of the care home and some of the care equipment in use.”
Most residents were staying in their own rooms due to the outbreak, but on the first day the watchdog team “found people’s rooms were not always as clean as necessary and there was a risk of cross-infection.”
‘PPE bins were overflowing’
Records and processes outlined did not include all of the standard infection
control precautions and the home suffered from a lack of sufficient cleaning due to a staff shortage, despite being supported by agency workers and HSCP employees.
There was only one housekeeper on duty during the first inspection day and the reporter stated a recent deep clean hadn’t been completed thoroughly.
“General waste, clinical waste and PPE disposal was not managed to a safe standard,” the reporter added. “There were not enough PPE bins and some PPE bins were overflowing.”
The stretched workforce were criticised for not having time to engage residents in meaningful activities or social interactions and were asked to improve forward planning.
Perth and Kinross HSCP did not wish to comment as the feedback was directed at operators Mead Medical, but confirmed the IMT was stood down on 21 January.
Positive progress had been made by the team’s second visit three days later but bosses have been given until February 22 to complete a checklist of necessary improvements.
Louisebrae did not reply when approached for comment.