In a report published on January 5, the Care Quality Commission rated Strawberry Fields in Courtwick Lane, Wick, as ‘requires improvement’, based on an unannounced inspection that took place on July 18 and 19 last year.
The inspector’s main concerns centred around the safety of the home, which at the time cared for eight people with learning difficulties aged between 24 and 52.
There were also issues with the effectiveness of the care and leadership, but found staff were caring and responsive to patient needs.
According to the CQC report, it also received a ‘requires improvement’ rating in the last two inspections.
The visit was sparked ‘in part’ by the care home contacting the CQC about one patient who repeatedly assaulted staff and other residents, with four incidents happening in ten days.
The report said three staff members were assaulted on separate occasions and needed medical attention, and two of them were sent to A&E.
It exposed how staff members did not feel fully prepared to deal with violent incidents, with one team leader admitting they did not know there were personal alarms for them to use.
According to the report, the week before the inspection ‘the makeup of the group had changed’, prompting a staff member to tell inspectors: “The home was not safe at all, but now it’s a safe place.”
A spokesman for Consensus Support Services, which runs the home, confirmed the resident no longer lives at Strawberry Fields and that they were changing management at the time of the inspection.
They said: “Whilst we very much respect the important role the CQC plays as our care regulator, in this case we do not believe this report provides a fair reflection of the care and support we provide at the service.
“The health and wellbeing of the individuals we support is our absolute priority, and the report recognises that the service is both caring and responsive, rating it ‘Good’ in both categories.
“The report also acknowledges that individuals supported at the service and their families said that they considered the service safe, and that they were supported by helpful staff who understood their needs and preferences.
“It is important to note that the report is based on an inspection that took place six months ago. The specific areas of concern identified in the report relate to an individual previously supported by us, who no longer lives at the service.
“We also have a new service manager in place who is working with staff, the individuals we support and their families to make sure the service provides a high standard of care and support to everyone.
“We are disappointed that the report does not reflect the current standards of care and support at the service. We have asked the CQC to review their current findings, and look forward to working with them to show the good quality provision across all categories that we are confident is being provided.”
The report also highlighted that while premises were clean and a hot tub had been installed for residents to use, camping mats had been glued to the walls to prevent residents injuring themselves in place of specialist padding and it was falling off in places.