Failing care home brings in turnaround specialist


After being deemed "not safe, not effective [and] not well led" by the Care Quality Commission, Leeds care home Donisthorpe Hall has brought in outside management.

At the first of three hastily convened meetings for residents' relatives, Donisthorpe's trustees chair Andrew Brown pledged that care would improve under Bam Healthcare's administration. "We will do everything we can over the coming months to support our residents to ensure they feel confident and secure," he said.

Speculation about Donisthorpe's future direction has been rife in the community following the damning CQC inspection report in November.

It was given an overall rating of inadequate, the watchdog's lowest, and the CQC said it was in "special measures".

Donisthorpe trustees thought the existing administration could rectify some of the problems. But when the CQC returned in March, there was still dissatisfaction, although that inspection report has yet to be published.

The home has a 180-plus capacity but is currently operating with 50 empty beds, which is a drain on its finances.

At the meetings with relatives, Bam's chief recovery officer, Tim Bolot, delivered a "road to recovery" presentation. "This has been an unsettling time for staff, residents and their families," he said.

"A lot of what we are doing is making sure that we have enough support in this organisation in the short-term to rebuild some of the things that are not working as they should."

The recovery scheme had been presented to the CQC and local authorities, which he said had no issues with it.

"Though we would like to wave a magic wand and have it all sorted out instantly, that is not possible."

Phase one of the four-year plan will be crisis management over the first 100 days. The second phase, for up to five months, will focus on developing sustainable solutions to the home's problems.

The aim of the longer final phase will be to establish "a high quality and effective provider central to the Leeds Jewish community and integral to wider health and social care structures".

Donisthorpe is short of qualified nurses and has been relying on a significant number of agency nurses.

Staff retention has been a problem and Mr Bolot acknowledged the importance of continuity of care.

He wanted employees to feel "like a team again", something that "appears to have got lost over a period of years".

Despite the residential vacancies, there would be no new admissions for the time being.

"We have 130 residents to look after and we want to make sure we are caring for them properly before we bring in additional people," he explained.

The phase one team will include Yvonne Gosset, a former CQC inspector and care home chief operating officer, and Roberta Barker, who has wide experience in organisational restructuring.

But Mr Bolot stressed: "The whole ethos is that we are one team. We are going to do this together and we are not here to replace the management team. We are basically making sure that this home is run effectively."

One woman told the meeting that she had been phoned by a nurse apologising that her mother had been given a weekly tablet on consecutive days.

Another woman told the JC this week that her aunt was offered medication by a nurse, who was unaware that the resident self-medicated and had already taken the correct dosage for the day.

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