A CARE home’s fourth successive shocking report has raised a host of fire safety concerns – despite uplifting ukulele performances and sing-alongs that help its residents “forget about everything”.

Oakdene Residential Home in Birkenhead has been rated ‘inadequate’ for the fourth time in little over a year by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), with inspectors’ biggest concerns over fire regulations and staff recruitment.

The latest report was released last week, and follows a previous inspection in October detailing the “chaos” of smelly rooms, a rusty toilet and residents “eating ice cream with their fingers”. The first of the four, in February 2018, found “stained yellow”, urine-smelling cubicles and allegations of financial abuse.

The home on Tollemache Road has been told by the CQC it will remain in special measures despite a number of positive initiatives and improvements, including entertainment for residents – and the introduction of visiting pianists and ukulele players.

The report said: “At this inspection we saw that the provider had addressed many of the significant shortfalls previously identified. However, there are still some areas of concern and the provider was still in breach of [four health and safety regulations].”

Why the home received its fourth ‘inadequate’ rating in little over a year:

Oakdene was rated as ‘inadequate’ in the categories of ‘is it safe’ and ‘is it well-led’, while it was given the score of ‘requires improvement’ in the ‘responsive’, ‘effective’ and ‘caring’ categories.

The inspection was carried out on February 4, and on the day of the visit, the home’s manager was unable to say if smoke detectors were working, and didn’t know what their “general fault” was. Other smoke detectors had tape wrapped around them, which it was feared may “hinder” effective operation.

Inspectors also had concerns about the oversight of the service’s safety – because for almost a week, managers “had not assured themselves that an adequate fire detection system was in place”.

A further concerning section of the report revealed one patient’s dietary and fluid intake was not being recorded – and that person had lost 9% of their body weight in the last six months.

A second patient also had “unplanned weight loss” but despite that, neither of them were referred to a dietitian until after the inspectors’ visit.

The report added this was the fourth inspection in a row where issues over “unsafe” recruitment had been raised – with one person having been hired without necessary checks taking place.

The report said: “The provider had not taken steps to assure themselves that the service was consistently safe. For example, the manager had not assured themselves over a period of five or six days, that an adequate fire detection system was in place on the first floor of the home.

“Also, the manager had appointed a new member of care staff with very little information with regard to the staff member’s suitability for the role and therefore placed people’s safety at risk.”

The CQC’s stark warning to Oakdene added: “If not enough improvement is made within this time frame so that there is still a rating of inadequate for any key question or overall, we will take action in line with our enforcement procedures to begin the process of preventing the registered provider from operating this service.”

The improvements since October’s inspection:

The Wirral home had, however, made a number of improvements since the last visit. They included better “safety of environment”, with new heating and hot water systems in place. Recent audits and checks had been “effective in raising standards”, the report said.

It also appeared clean “to an acceptable standard”, while residents told inspectors they were “happy and felt well cared for” following some recent changes.

Care planning had also improved, despite the report saying this aspect “needed more work”, with some information not always matching the care received.

The home provides care for up to 16 people.

The report went so far as to say there had been “significant improvement” in activities for residents – also praising the manager’s relationship with residents.

One told inspectors: “There is more stuff going on now. We have had singing and dancing today, we do jigsaws, have the piano man come and the ukulele lady; they are very good.”

Following a sing-along at the home which “people seemed to enjoy”, another told them: “When you are singing you just forget about everything, don’t you?”

Oakdene was contacted for comment.