Hailsham nursing home rated ‘Inadequate’ after whistle-blower raises alarm

Ersham House Nursing Home, Hailsham (Photo by Jon Rigby)
Ersham House Nursing Home, Hailsham (Photo by Jon Rigby)

A Hailsham care home has been rated ‘Inadequate’ after a whistle-blower’s complaint prompted an unannounced inspection.

Ersham House Nursing Home, which looks after people with needs such as poor mobility and dementia, has been placed in special measures after an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found it to be in breach of regulations.

According to the CQC, the alarm was raised after an anonymous source informed inspectors the consistency of people’s pureed food was not in line with safety standards to prevent them from choking.

The report, which was published on October 27, said, “During the inspection, we observed a staff member pushing aside lumps within people’s pureed food and a member of the kitchen team advised that the blender provided was not fit for purpose.”

Written following the inspection on August 29 and 31, the report also said people did not consistently receive safe care and treatment.

It found that the management of catheter care was ineffective and placed people at risk.

Meanwhile, inspectors said the principles of the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 2005 were still not consistently applied in practice.

The report said, “Where people had bed rails, the provider could not evidence whether they had consented to the use of bed rails or whether they were implemented in people’s best interests when people did not have capacity to consent.

“Relatives were signing consent forms without the appropriate authority to do so.”

Patients raised concerns about the restrictions imposed on their freedom. One person reportedly told inspectors, “I certainly feel restricted from how I was living before. I’ve been here about five months. I’d like to go out in a taxi on my own and go shopping, then get a taxi back. I can’t see why I can’t; I did do it before I came here without any problems.”

Restrictions on staffing levels meant people could not freely sit outside or access the garden, the report said.

It also found that people remained at risk of social isolation and the activities provided were not ‘consistently meaningful’ or accessible to those with varying needs and preferences.

However, the report also drew attention to some improvements which had been made on the previous inspection in February. It said, “Another activity coordinator had been recruited and staff no longer referred to people in an inappropriate manner.

“Prescribed fluid thickener was not left in easy reach of people.

“Staffing levels had increased and a dependency tool was now in place to assess what staffing levels were needed to meet people’s needs.”

It also said, “People spoke highly of the food provided and for those who enjoyed group activities, a range of activities were on offer. These included arts and craft, card games and puzzles. Staff recruitment practice was safe.”

The Herald contacted the home for a comment.