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CQC issues dementia care warnings in Kent.



A Kent mental health Trust has been issued with two warning notices after inspectors found care on a ward for elderly dementia patients was “inadequate and unsafe”.

Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust has been told to make urgent improvements by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after an inspection visit in March.

Inspectors raised specific concerns about standards at Littlestone Lodge, Dartford, and a 16-bed continuing care unit for older people with dementia.

The inspection report says: “We identified poor practice including staff not meeting the needs of patients and observed unsafe care. Patient’s pain was not being managed; all patients were wearing incontinence pads without their needs being assessed and medicines were being administered covertly without rationale.”

They found the facility’s acting manager had tried to make improvements but been hampered by lack of support, including senior managers failing to provide additional experienced nurses.

However, the CQC noted that when inspectors returned to check on progress they found the service had made “many improvements” and that the trust had met the requirements of the warning notices.

Overall the trust was rated “requires improvement” by inspectors who visited 37 hospital wards and several of its community services, reporting wide variation in quality.

A lack of registered nurses was found to be a key issue although the trust had successfully brought down overall vacancy rates from 17.4% to 9.7%. Thirty-one of the trust’s sites were said to have a vacancy rate of 50% or more, with bank and agency staff used to fill more than 100 shifts during the three months up to October 2014.

Inspectors also found examples of staff working very long hours, with one employee in the rehabilitation service working 13 shifts in 14 days.

Nevertheless, they rated the trust “good” overall for staff being caring while its forensic service and wards for people with learning disabilities were judged “outstanding” for caring.