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Black Isle care-at-home service labelled 'weak' over handling of visit times

By Niall Harkiss

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Inspectors found a mixed picture when examining the performance of a care at home service.
Inspectors found a mixed picture when examining the performance of a care at home service.

An unannounced inspection of Top-Care Inverness has found that users lack confidence in the service due to unreliable visit times.

The care at home service, which mainly provides support for people living in the Black Isle, was labelled "weak" in the areas of leadership, and supporting people's wellbeing following the visit on June 29.

The provider has been given a series of requirements to meet before August 31 to avoid further action.

In contrast, inspectors did conclude that the staff team was "good", and planning of care and support was evaluated was "adequate".

In the area of support, people being cared for told inspectors the service that did not always meet their needs, mainly relating to visit times, which were inconsistent, and sometimes very late, or very early.

It was explained that this had impacted on unpaid carers, who felt they could not depend on the service to be there when it should.

The report from inspectors noted that the provider was aware of some areas where this was a challenge, and was actively looking at solutions with NHS Highland, but progress had been slow.

Inspectors also found that concerns raised by clients were not always treated with respect, professionalism, or compassion, and that this "had a negative effect on people's experiences", resulting in "a reluctance to raise concerns felt by some people."

The Care Inspectorate responded by issuing a requirement to the provider to make adjustments by August 31, to ensure that people receive care and support where they feel respected and valued.

Inspectors also issued a notice to the provider to evaluate the effectiveness of their care schedules and to continually assess planned visit times, and duration of times spent on visits, to identify if there are any issues that need to be looked at.

The provider was also told to ensure that the service is well led and managed, resulting in "positive outcomes for service users through a culture of continuous improvement". A requirement was also stated to ensure that the service explains to people how they handle their data, and that they are offered choices to best suit their needs and preferences.

When inspectors observed staff practice, they found staff to be knowledgeable, competent and supporting people in way that they preferred. People mostly spoke well of staff, with some indicating there were "some staff who were better than others."

The inspection also found that staff were recruited in a way which followed safer recruitment practices. In addition, both the provider and the new manager had started the qualifications needed for the role.

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