A COUNCIL-RUN care home did not have enough staff to “even provide basic care hours” despite workers taking on extra shifts and overtime, an inspection report has revealed.

Concern over staffing at The Abbey, in North Berwick, has seen it issued with a series of requirements by the Care Inspectorate after a string of problems were identified during an unannounced visit.

A lack of staff and poor infection control were identified as concerns by inspectors who also criticised the nutritional meals provided to residents.

And they said at the time of the visit in May the home was still only allowing pre-booked visits despite changes to Government guidance – something that was lifted after they raised concerns.

The care home, which has historically received praise for its standards during inspections, received three gradings of ‘weak’ for its leadership, staffing team and support for residents in the report, with an ‘adequate’ grade for its planning of care and support.

And while the Care inspectorate acknowledged residents and their families were full of praise for staff at the home, who it said were kind and compassionate, it said a lack of a permanent manager in recent times had affected operations.

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The report said: “Staff were kind, compassionate and had worked extra hours and extra days to cover the service.

“Despite their willingness to step in at short notice, there was not enough staff to meet even the basic care hours as identified by the provider.

“This meant that all aspects of care, support, activities, and record keeping was being compromised.

“While the Care Inspectorate are mindful of the national shortages of staff, staff recruitment and contingency planning was needed to support safe staffing in this service.”

Among requirements introduced in the report were to “provide sufficient staff throughout the service to ensure people’s safety, care and well-being needs are met at all times” by the end of August.

Other requirements included an order to ensure the home provides “a healthy diet that supports people’s choices and needs”.

It added that as a minimum the council must “ensure catering and care staff receive appropriate training in nutritional needs of older people; ensure the menu meets the nutritional needs, preferences and choices of the residents;  offer visual choices; support residents with at least two suitable choices at each meal, a cooked breakfast if they wish, and an alternative menu in a format they can use such as picture menus”.

Councillor Jeremy Findlay, ward member for North Berwick Coastal, said he would be following up the report with council officers to ensure the requirements were met.

He said: “The Care Inspectorate (CI) Report obviously highlights some keys areas of concern.

“While it is pleasing to see that the residents themselves seem happy at the home there are some disturbing failures behind the scenes.

“While many of these may be due to a lack of staff, which is a problem many face, it is up to East Lothian Council to address these issues and to make the improvements that the CI give in the recommendations.

“This emphasises the need for the re-provisioning exercise taking place for the Abbey and the Edington Hospital to be completed as soon as possible so that North Berwick can have facilities that meets the needs of people in the 21st century”

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The Abbey is one of a number of care facilities in East Lothian which is being looked at as part of a remodelling of the council’s services.

Councillor Liz Allan, fellow ward member, said despite the issues raised she was confident the arrival of a new manager at the home, who has been appointed, would see the required changes introduced quickly and its grades improve.

She said: “It is important to emphasise that the staff at the home were not at fault and were praised for their hard work and extra efforts they have been making.

“Being short-staffed means they are fire fighting all the time and it is difficult to tackle other areas such as training.

“There is a new manager about to start and that will give them a very good foundation to move forward and tackle the issues.

“I am confident things will improve quickly, The Abbey is important for the people of North Berwick.”

A spokesperson for the East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership said: “An action plan has been drawn up to address the Care Inspectorate report.

“Providing high-quality care for residents is our top priority and so the actions set out in the action plan are being taken forward as a matter of priority.”