A VILLAGE care home has been slammed by health inspectors over staffing levels and ‘unsafe’ medicine practices after a visit prompted by anonymous concerns.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has now downgraded Stowford House Care Home in Shippon, near Abingdon, from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’.

A CQC report published this month following an inspection in June stated: "We received concerns in relation to the safe management of medicines and staffing levels."

It added as well as the anonymous complaint, the health watchdog was also aware of an incident where concerns had been raised about the conduct of agency staff.

The report said this was 'subject to a criminal investigation' and so was not the focus of the visit.

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It stated the worries which caused the CQC inspection had said permanent staff were leaving due to the pressure of work which they said they felt was partly due to supporting high levels of agency staff.

It added: “Of the people we spoke with, four people who lived in the home, four visiting relatives and four care assistants said there were not enough staff to meet people’s needs.”

The report continued: “A relative said, ‘Yes, she’s safe here but there’s not enough staff. It bugs me a bit - agency nurses, they’ve never seen her before’.”

At the time of the inspection, the registered manager stated assessed care staff levels for this time should be five care staff on each floor. The report stated eight weeks of rotas were reviewed and out of 56 days only 28 days had achieved the necessary staffing levels.

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It added: “We found no evidence that people had been harmed. However, systems were not robust enough to demonstrate staffing levels were adequate to meet people’s changing needs. This placed people at risk of harm.”

The report also found staff issues were leading to medicines not always being given by trained nurses, explaining: "People's medicine administration records (MAR's) had been signed that people had received their medicines. However, on some occasions, nurses were delegating the task of administering the medicines to care assistants who were not trained to do so."

It added: "A member of staff said, 'The nurses sometimes ask care staff to give medicines as they are so busy. It's not right but they don't have time and that's why they ask.

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"The registered manager took immediate action to address this ensuring the practice was stopped."

Inspectors again found no evidence that people had been harmed.

At the time of the CQC visit the care home was looking after 47 people aged 65 and over, one floor providing nursing care and the other floor provides care to people living with dementia.

The report said the agency would work with the care home and return as per its reinspection programme, adding: “If we receive any concerning information we may inspect sooner.”