Care-at-home service under fire for lack of Covid-19 testing

The Care Inspectorate unearthed a number of issues at Karma Healthcare.

Care-at-home service under fire for lack of Covid-19 testing iStock

A care-at-home service that looks after more than 200 patients has been slapped with an improvement notice after inspectors discovered staff were not being regularly tested for Covid-19.

It was just one of a variety of issues unearthed at Karma Healthcare by the Care Inspectorate (CI) as the watchdog handed the Gourock, Renfrewshire, service the lowest possible grading of “unsatisfactory”.

As well as a lack of testing, inspectors found staff were putting patients at risk by frequently car sharing when undertaking visits.

And the CI was told around a quarter of staff had not received appropriate training around coronavirus, despite the service having been told to fix this two months before.

A virtual check-up was carried out in May when Karma Healthcare received an “adequate” grading, but this has now been brought down following the latest findings.

Alongside infection control and prevention problems, there were also serious concerns highlighted around people’s personal care plans and medication practices.

A report released this past week stated: “Regular Covid-19 testing was not being undertaken. 

“We were informed by staff there was a lack of drivers which meant staff frequently car shared when undertaking visits to people. This meant the risk of cross-infection increased among people and staff.

“We were informed by the management only approximately 75% of staff had received appropriate IPC [infection prevention and control] and Covid-19 training.

“The service had a poor notification history in alerting the CI when there was a suspected or confirmed outbreak.

“Upon the examination of the care plans, we found them to be of poor quality.

“We felt people were at significant risk as they may not always receive the right medication or treatment at the right time.”

There were also concerns highlighted around the service’s recruitment procedures and visiting schedules.

Inspectors found staff had started work with people prior to the manager receiving written references and completed checks.

And there were signs of poor recordkeeping, as inspectors were left unsure if staff were registered with the Scottish Social Services Council.

Employees also said the quality of induction training was “inadequate”.

The report added: “Staff training in moving and assisting including hoists and catheter care left them unprepared and insufficiently skilled to provide support to people.

“People being supported and their relatives told us sometimes meals were being missed due to the timing of visits. We felt people did not always receive the right support to help them eat.

“We looked at visiting schedules and found some were inaccurate and did not reflect agreed visiting times and the support required. People told us ‘strangers’ turn up to support them and they are unsure of their needs.

“People said male staff had called to support them when they explicitly requested female staff.”

The CI gave Karma Healthcare seven urgent requirements to meet to bring the service up to a suitable standard.

Some of these were due to be met by Monday, July 26, such as the improvement of care plans and testing.

But bosses still have time to bring other areas up to scratch by August 9, such as medication management and infection prevention and control training.

A spokesman for Karma Healthcare said: “Karma Healthcare recognises the deficiencies in performance, which are amplified in the recent findings of the Care Inspectorate report.

“This has led to significant management investment, in terms of resources and time, to rectify and surpass the requirements.

“With the assistance and support of both the Care Inspectorate and the council, we are committed to re-establishing the quality of service our users deserve. It has been acknowledged by both bodies that our carers’ level of commitment is of excellent quality.

“We are striving to ensure that all supporting services and communications with the company meet a comparable standard.”

By local democracy reporter Steph Brawn

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