Care home 'covertly' gave patient medication, damning report reveals

Leaf Park Dementia Village

Leaf Park Dementia Village on Great Yarmouth's Lawn Avenue has been placed into special measures by the CQC. - Credit: James Weeds

A resident of a Great Yarmouth dementia care home was given medication secretly hidden in food without the proper procedures in place, a damning report has revealed.

Leaf Park Dementia Village on Lawn Avenue has been placed into special measures by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following an inspection which rated the home 'inadequate' on April 28, 2022.

A resident of Leaf Park, which was first registered as a home in October 2020, was said to have been given medicines "covertly" concealed in food and drink by staff who were yet to make a "best interests decision" to determine whether that was the proper course of action.

The CQC was called in to carry out an inspection - the home's first since opening - after concerns were raised about a number of risks, and Norfolk County Council put restrictions on residents being admitted to the home.

Leaf Park Dementia Village

One resident was said to have been given medicines hidden in their food and drink at Leaf Park Dementia Village. - Credit: James Weeds

The care home was also said to have placed people at risk after residents' nutritional and hydration needs were not appropriately managed, with one person being found at risk of choking as their food had the "incorrect consistency".

The report, released this week, stated the care home did not have a diabetes risk assessment in place, with one diabetic resident found eating high sugar foods.

Concerns were raised about the care home's staffing levels, with only two staff on duty to assist the 19 residents between 1am and 7am.

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The report said: "People told us the staff were kind when interacting with them, but sometimes the staff member supporting them would be called away because other people's needs were more urgent."

Inspectors also noted that on occasions during the night one unit was left unmanned due to one staff member having to assist the other to move people on a different floor.

A member of staff was noted as saying the home's staffing levels were "not ideal" and a "particular concern".

Leaf Park Dementia Village

Staffing levels were a concern by other staff members at Leaf Park Dementia Village in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: James Weeds

Leaf Park Dementia Village declined to comment on the report.

After the inspection, the report stated the provider had increased the night shift to include a third staff member until 4am, "but this still left a gap of two hours from 4am to 6am when only two staff were on duty".

The report highlighted that seven regulations of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 were breached, including those around staffing levels, residents' nutritional and hydration needs and person-centred care.

While Leaf Park management kept a log of complaints and some people said they felt they could complain to staff and would be listened to, other people had said they weren't always sure if anything would change. 

CQC logo

The CQC are the independent regulator of health and social care in England - Credit: Care Quality Commission

One relative told inspectors: "I give up on the laundry issues. I have time and time again found my relative in someone else's clothing or they have ruined their clothes by washing on too high a temperature."

Overall, the CQC stated they had received "mixed feedback" from people about the quality of the service. Staff had said they enjoyed working in the service and were complimentary about the new manager.

One staff member said: "I have never met the registered manager, but the new manager is very hands on and I like them. They listen. I just worry he will be constrained by the provider.

Tim Weller, head of Norfolk County Council’s Integrated Quality Service said: “Following our own audit in March, we were sufficiently concerned about our findings at Leaf Park to place a restriction on admissions to the home.

"Since conducting the audit we’ve been working closely with the provider to support improvements against an agreed action plan, but we’ve not seen progress made at the rate expected. Sadly, this has been reflected in CQC's subsequent inspection report.

"Our top priority is the individuals at Leaf Park, and our social work teams are reviewing the care delivered to ensure their welfare and safety and our restriction remains in force.”

Mike Smith-Clare, Labour county councillor.

Mike Smith-Clare, Labour county councillor. - Credit: Labour Party

Mike Smith-Clare, Great Yarmouth county councillor and People and Communities Select Committee member, said: "It’s essential that the most vulnerable members of our community receive the care they need. Dementia is a crippling condition that should demand the best level of support. 

"It’s imperative that everyone involved learns from this judgment and work towards moving out of special measures as soon as possible."

Have you or a relative been affected by the conditions at this care home? Email GYMNews@archant.co.uk with your story.