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Town Hall reveals ‘tight action plan’ in response to damning report on care services

Hackney Town Hall
Hackney Town Hall.

Hackney Council has stated that a “tight action plan” is now in place to put right a sweeping list of failures catalogued in a watchdog report labelling its homecare and supported living services ‘Inadequate.’

The Town Hall’s Housing with Care service, which provides support to help people, including those with dementia and learning disabilities, to live independently, received red-coded ‘Inadequate’ stamps for its safety, effectiveness, and leadership from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The service’s levels of caring and responsiveness received yellow ‘Requires Improvement’ stamps, resulting in an overall ‘Inadequate’ rating across the five different measures.

Anne Canning, group director of children, adults and community health, said: “The first thing I would say is the service’s deep regret that a more watchful eye wasn’t kept on this area. We’ve been quite clear with the CQC about that. It’s something we’re taking extremely seriously.

“There is a tight action plan. Senior staff from adult services are going out to meet friends and family and service users.

“We are very mindful in particular of the service users and maintaining their confidence through this process, and that they feel that they are safe and being cared for in a compassionate and safe manner.”

The CQC inspection found multiple failings across the service, including :

  • information about people’s end of life wishes not being captured and the providers not following their end of life policy.
  • medicines not being managed in a safe way, with records not showing people had been supported to take medicines in a safe way.
  • “piecemeal” systems in place to monitor and respond to incidents and allegations of abuse.
  • people feeling uninvolved in developing their care plans, with the plans not developed in line with best practice and guidance for meeting specific need.
  • insufficient information about people’s healthcare needs, dietary requirements, cultural background and sexual and gender identity.

The inspection found that whilst staff spoke about and treated people they cared for with “kindness and compassion”, that some users of the service found that staff were too rushed to spend time with them.

Some schemes were found to have particularly high use of agency staff, with half of some schemes’ shifts being covered by agency workers.

Records also did not demonstrate whether staff had received the proper training to carry out their roles.

The service has seen a swift decline in quality from its last inspection in February 2016, when it received a rating of ‘Good’.

Housing with Care’s ‘Inadequate’ rating means it is now in special measures.

The Town Hall has stated on its website that it is now taking detailed action in response to the failings detailed in the report, including putting in place more thorough risk assessments to prevent unsafe handling of medications, and refresher training for staff on complaints procedure, care plans, and on how the Mental Capacity Act (2005) works in practice.

The report also identified a high usage of agency staff across the service, which the council defended in its response, due to the flexibility that agency staff allows the service when patients’ needs change.

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