A MENTAL health facility in Lowton has been placed into special measures following an inspection from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Ashwood Court Nursing Unit, run by health and social care company Making Space, is a 10-bed hospital that provides rehabilitation for people aged between 18 and 65 with severe mental health problems.

The facility, based on Woodford Avenue in Lowton, was rated 'inadequate' by the CQC during their most recent visit in May, dropping two grades from their 'good' rating in 2018.

With staff not found to have the knowledge or skills needed to keep people safe, urgent action was taken to place the facility into special measures and suspend any more patients from being admitted.

Hospital staff have been told that they must address the concerns identified and will be closely monitored and re-inspected to see if sufficient improvements have been made.

During the inspection, CQC found:

  • Staff did not complete a risk assessment or crisis plan for all patients and did not review patient risk following incidents. Opportunities to prevent or minimise harm were missed.
  • The service did not have an environmental ligature risk assessment.
  • Information about people’s care and treatment was not appropriately shared between staff or with partner agencies. Staff did not notify CQC of all incidents that met the threshold for reporting.
  • There was insufficient attention given to safeguarding. Staff did not follow the provider’s own safeguarding policy. Staff did not report all safeguarding concerns to the local authority that met the threshold for reporting.
  • The service did not involve patients, families and carers in their care and treatment. Discharge planning was not well managed and not all patients had a discharge plan in place.
  • Privacy and dignity of patients was not protected. Male patients could see into female patients’ bedrooms from the garden.
  • The governance arrangements were unclear and there was no clear audit system in place to assess, monitor and improve the quality and safety of the service. The medicines audit was out of date, equipment checks were not completed in line with manufacturers requirements and managers did not audit care records.

Leigh Journal: Staff at Ashwood Court were recognised for keeping patients safe during the pandemicStaff at Ashwood Court were recognised for keeping patients safe during the pandemic

Brian Cranna, CQCs head of hospital inspection, said:

“When we inspected Ashwood Court, we found leaders didn’t have enough oversight of the service to ensure patients were receiving safe care and treatment, and it was worrying they weren’t aware of the concerns until this inspection.

“We found staff didn’t have the knowledge and skills needed to keep people safe. They didn’t have adequate training to safely manage incidents of violence and aggression, and weren’t up to date with mandatory training or have training in basic life support.

“We had concerns staff didn’t follow the provider’s absent without leave policy. There were two incidents where patients had gone absent without leave, following which risk assessments were not updated for both incidents and relevant staff weren’t informed which could place people at serious risk of harm.

“It was also disappointing that medical equipment hadn’t been routinely checked, as well as disposable items being out of date which was raised at the last inspection in 2018.

"Resuscitation equipment was also out of date or missing and had been for several months which isn’t acceptable and must be checked to ensure its safe, in case it is needed in an emergency.

“However, I’m pleased to report the staff had a caring attitude and patients spoke positively about the unit. Patients also had a good relationship with bank and agency staff."

Leigh Journal: Ashwood Court Nursing UnitAshwood Court Nursing Unit

Response from Making Space:

"We take the CQC inspection very seriously and have developed a thorough improvement action plan that addresses all areas of concern outlined in the report.

“The registered manager and newly recruited clinical lead are working closely with our central departments, senior management and the Greater Manchester Integrated Care (Wigan Locality) to implement these improvements and to demonstrate them in action.

“Immediately following the inspection the lifesaving resuscitation and medical equipment was sourced, and a system of checks and monitoring has been put in place.

"Our caring staff team have a good relationship with our patients, their families and carers which we value very much. Following the inspection we met with our patients to discuss the findings and what would happen next. We have also apologised and given assurances to families and carers following the findings. We will continue to keep them informed on actions being taken.

“All patients now have up to date risk assessments and crisis plans which are reviewed regularly - these are audited by our new clinical lead.

“Many of our staff team are up to date with their training and by the end of August all staff will have completed training in basic life support, challenging behaviour, conflict management and physical interventions.

“All safeguarding and CQC notifications are now being made and monitored appropriately.

“As we progress with our improvement plan we will ensure that Ashwood Court Nursing Unit provides the highest level of care to our patients and an outcome focussed, positive environment for all.”