NEARLY 30 members of staff were on the sick during the period of a poor care home inspection which saw its overall rating crash from outstanding, a care home director said.

The managing director of Middleton Hall Retirement Village in Middleton St George near Darlington, made the comments following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Jeremy Walton told The Northern Echo: "The inspection was very different from what we've had before – we had the worst outbreak of D&V (diarrhoea and vomiting), we had 28 employees off during that period of time."

In its latest CQC inspection, Middleton Hall Retirement Village was downgraded from outstanding to requires improvement after a number of concerns were identified.

In the report, which found medicines had not always been managed safely and relatives felt there weren't always sufficient staff on duty, inspectors discovered there had been an "increased risk" that residents could be harmed.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

The report, which assessed the retirement village as a whole, said: "People and relatives felt there were not always sufficient staff on duty and sometimes people had to wait for assistance.

"People were not always supported to have maximum choice and control of their lives."

The report went on to say residents were not always supported to have "maximum choice" and "control" over their lives, it said: "Mental capacity assessments were not always correctly completed and records of best interest decisions were not always in place."

When exploring whether medicines had been used safely, the report identified records were not always completed or reflective of people's current needs.

The report said: "Where medicines were prescribed with a variable dose it was not always clear from the records how many had been administered."

Despite evidence of some guidance for medicine use, the report said documentation was not always in place.

Under the 'assessing risk, safety monitoring and management' category, the report found risks had not always been fully assessed or reviewed regularly, and suitable safety checks on equipment were not always carried out.

It said: "Mattress settings were not always correct and water temperatures were not monitored correctly. We checked two mattresses and found the settings to be incorrect on both, we asked staff to ensure the remaining mattresses were checked following our inspection. In some cases water temperatures had regularly exceeded the safe limit of 43 degrees Celsius."

'We were affected by a lot of sickness'

In response to the findings, Middleton Hall's managing director Jeremy Walton said he had been disappointed by the CQC's findings.

Promising to improve, he said: "I would absolutely fully accept that we won’t be requiring improvement again – we have always achieved a ‘good’ one and that should always be the case.

"We were affected by a lot of sickness, we do have a strict return to work policy – we would always aim to be staffing above minimum requirements."

A statement published from the care home said: "Since the inspection we worked with the CQC to develop an action plan to address the areas of documentation and systems that need improvement.

"That plan is now being implemented and is likely to involve the introduction of a digital care planning system during 2020."