Care home owners from the Ribble Valley celebrate "outstanding" rating

Melissa and Jason (centre) celebrate the rating with staff, management and residents.
Melissa and Jason (centre) celebrate the rating with staff, management and residents.
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A care home run by a couple from the Ribble Valley has been praised during a recent inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

Ashlands Private Nursing Home, which is based at Waterfoot in Rossendale and owned by Melissa and Jason O'Rourke, who live in Sawley, received an overall rating of "good" from CQC inspectors, but was rated "outstanding" for being "well led".

Melissa who is the home's registered manager and a registered nurse, worked as a staff nurse at Clitheroe Health Centre and worked for many years at the Manor house in Chatburn as a care assistant, registered nurse and registered nurse manager before buying Ashlands in 2014.

"Since buying Ashlands it has gone from strength to strength and achieved various awards and recognition, but to be awarded outstanding is our biggest achievement," said Melissa.

The CQC is the independent regulator of health and social care in England and the inspection was conducted over two days by three inspectors at Ashlands in February.

Some of the comments made by the relatives of residents published in the CQC report included: "Staff know what they are doing. I feel very confident in them."

One of the residents, meanwhile, said: "I'm never stopped from doing anything."

While another said: "I do what I want, when I want."

A healthcare professional commented: "The home owner and registered nurses are very good at recognising changes in patients if they are becoming unwell. The nursing staff are knowledgeable and have a very good understanding of people's needs and medical conditions. The residents seem very happy and well cared for."

Residents also told the CQC inspectors that they liked the staff who supported them and that the staff were kind and caring.

They added that they were very happy with the activities and outings available at the home with excursions ranging from trips to Blackpool Zoo and a nearby war museum.

An end of life policy is in place at the home with the majority of staff completing end of life training through the local hospice.

Inspectors found that the home's residents and their relatives knew the registered manager and were very happy with the way the service was being managed.

One relative said: "It's very well managed. It's always spot on, very home from home."

The inspectors received particular positive feedback for Melissa herself about the management of the home from a wide variety of community professionals.

One external training and apprenticeship assessor who regularly visited the home told inspectors: "The staff are good, very knowledgeable. The registered manager is very approachable. She invests time in the staff and the staff are well supported. The home is clean, calm and welcoming."

The nursing and quality manager for the local CCG told inspectors: " The registered manager is very passionate about delivering a high quality of care to her residents. She has been one of the first care home managers to be engaged with the CCG work programme and is an active participant at the Care Home Quality Forum.

"In 2017, she volunteered to take part in a small pilot of 10 care homes and was the first to become fully compliant with the Information Governance toolkit.

"Ashlands is also taking part in the Red Bag scheme, where the home ensures that standardised care documentation and information, along with essential medication and personal belongings, go to hospital with the resident in a dedicated red bag. The scheme is being rolled out nationally and we are leading the way in Lancashire."

The CCG manager told inspectors that they had nominated the home for a CCG "star award" in March 2017 for developing links with a local school to create relationships, improve the communication skills of people living at the home, while also facilitating the children gaining letter writing skills.

She said: "The manager has worked very hard over a long period of time and overcome a number of obstacles to develop relationships with a local school to get this scheme off the ground. This demonstrates drive and determination and a continuous quest to go the extra mile to enhance the residents well being. This is a fantastic example of partnership working where mutually beneficial outcomes can be identified, enhancing community assets for the regulated care sector and the wider community."

Melissa told inspectors that she had picked the school because one of the residents at the home had attended the school as a child and loved to reminisce about it. Melissa said residents had really enjoyed developing relationships with the school children and looked forward to hearing from them and their visits.

The care home was always found to be well kept and clean and tidy by inspectors. It also has strong links and good communication with the local community.

An inspector said: "I find Ashlands to be a place of care and compassion for residents and visitors. The registered manager and her staff are friendly and helpful and clearly know those in their care very well."

The inspection also found that the registered manager demonstrated a passion for providing people living at the home with high quality care.

Melissa attends a variety of local meetings, forums and conferences to stay up to date with and to share good practice. These included East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group [CCG] Care Home Quality Forum, Lancashire County Council provider forum and Lancashire Care Home Association conferences . In addition, Melissa is a member of Lancashire Care Association, the Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA) and a local registered manager support group. She is also a member of the East Lancashire CCG Digital Health Board, which focuses on the use of technology to support progress in health and social care.

The results of a quality assurance survey issued in December 2017 showed that a high level of satisfaction had been expressed about all aspects of the service. Comments included "we're delighted with the care," and "I have always felt that (my relative) is looked after very well at Ashlands."

Staff were also very happy to work at the home, inspectors found. They said that they were motivated by Melissa and were proud of the care and support they provided.

Comments included: "I don't think anything could be improved here. I would be happy for a member of my family to live here."

The provider's philosophy of care. which inspectors saw evidence of during their visits, is: "To look after our service users in the best possible way, in a home from home environment, creating an atmosphere to meet all the care, social, spiritual and psychological needs of the individual."