CQC warnings on the rise
The Care Quality Commission annual report recently revealed that the number of warnings leapt by 43 per cent in a year to more than 17 a week – with most failings exposed in residential care.
In addition to issues such as pensioners being forced to sleep in unheated rooms over the winter, residents being ignored when in visible pain and broken call bells, unannounced inspectors also found filthy commodes and unclean beds, and commented that no effective systems were in place to prevent or monitor infection.
As JLA’s infection control specialist Jackie Hook comments, poor cleanliness is often overlooked, but should be viewed in the same light as other areas of concern.
“Failing to uphold cleanliness in a care home is tantamount to neglect. While the quality of actual physical care provided is under increasing scrutiny, it’s just as important to put infection control practices under the microscope, and make sure homes receive the right guidance and equipment to provide pleasant, risk-free surroundings. CFPP01-04 guidelines outline the importance of using a proven method of disinfection for laundry, and innovations such as JLA’s OTEX ozone disinfection laundry system are already helping care homes kill bacteria including C.difficile, MRSA and Norovirus and E.Coli to eradicate cross-infection.
Despite this, many homes still choose to make do with traditional ‘high-heat’ wash processes that aren’t as effective, or worse still, buy domestic machines that cannot properly disinfect bedding regardless of the programme used.”
Details of the warning notices contained in the CQC’s 2012/13 report revealed 910 warning notices had been issued, up from 638 the year before. Of these, 818 were in adult social care. The remaining warnings were issued to other healthcare institutions, including hospitals, GP surgeries and ambulances.
Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of Age UK, said: "Providing safe and dignified services must be the first priority of any organisation and there must be a zero-tolerance attitude to poor, neglectful care whether in a hospital or care home."
Paul Farrell, product manager for JLA’s Medical division pinpoints another area for consideration:
“The sluice room is particularly important in terms of monitoring standards of cleanliness. However, as is the case with laundry, this critical area of care home operation can be overlooked by some.
Manual cleaning of commode pots and bedpans is time consuming and unreliable, but using a mechanical bedpan washer disinfector – similar to a dishwasher in the way it works – ensures complete decontamination in a matter of minutes and gives owners and managers one less thing to worry about. If disposable bedpans, bottles or incontinence pads are used, macerators provide equally quick and effective disposal to remove the hassle and cross-contamination risks of yellow waste bag collections.”
The focus on standards in care environments will only intensify, after the CQC faced serious concerns over its inspection methods, which have allowed poor care to go unchallenged. A spokesman for the CQC said: ‘The CQC’s new chief inspector of adult social care, Andrea Sutcliffe, will lead plans for a new regulatory approach when she joins and she will be calling on the public, staff and people providing services to give their views on how regulation should change, when we go out to consultation.
"These plans will set a clear bar below which no provider must fall without facing serious consequences. It will be a tougher more effective approach."