A Rochdale care agency has been rapped for being too reliant on WhatsApp messages at the expense of keeping people’s records up to date – potentially compromising safety.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that B2B Independent Living, in Rochdale ‘requires improvement’ following a recent inspection which found its service was ‘not always safe’.
However, bosses at the agency, based at 141 Whitworth Road, Healey, say they are ‘disappointed’ by the findings – which they say come down to paperwork – but will take the comments on board.
The agency looks after people with dementia, learning disabilities and mental health conditions in their own homes.
Inspectors from the CQC found much to praise about the Healey-based service – rating it ‘good’ in the categories of effectiveness and caring. One service user told them ‘whatever I need staff to do, they help me with, it’s amazing’.
Families of those looked after by the service also told officials they were satisfied with the care their relatives were receiving. “I am happy to say this company has looked after my husband’s needs very well”, one woman told them.
The agency’s care staff were said to be in ‘constant communication’ with those they looked after and their families through WhatsApp groups.
But, while this may have been an effective tool for keeping in touch, inspectors found it led to people’s care files not being kept up to date.
Furthermore, they found that the files were not detailed enough to ‘support person-centred care.
The report states: “In practice the WhatsApp groups involving people, families and care staff, whilst aiding good communication, had distracted the provider from meeting the requirement to maintain accurate, complete and contemporaneous records in respect of each person using the service.
“Good record keeping improves communication and accountability and reduces the likelihood of errors occurring.”
As an example, the report notes that medicines records in people’s care files, ‘were not always dated and not up to date when checked’.
“This falls short of the required standard for record keeping,” it adds.
And while there was no one was found to have come to harm, or suffered any ‘negative impact’ as a result of these shortcomings, the report notes:
“Some aspects of the service were not always safe and there was limited assurance about safety. There was an increased risk that people could be harmed.”
As a result of the findings, care bosses have agreed that robust systems must be in place to keep records up to date and reduce the risk of errors occurring.
Director Claire Greenwood said the full information on service users was present in the WhatsApp communications: “We have taken it on board, it’s our first inspection, however we were disappointed with it. It seemed to be the paperwork, which we did have there, but not in the files.”
Ms Greenwood said the paperwork was now up to date and the care outfit was determined to achieve an ‘outstanding’ rating when it was next inspected.
The agency was found to be in breach of one regulation of the Health and Social Care Act.
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