Legionella Scare at Chelsea Care Home

Vulnerable residents of Chelsea’s only local authority nursing home are being forced to move out following the detection of Legionella in the water system.

Though the Council would not comment directly on the future of Thamesbrook, a RBKC spokesperson explained, ‘Although the risk to Thamesbrook’s residents and staff was low… The Council has decided to temporarily transfer the residents to other homes nearby so that they can be provided with a good quality of care in a suitable environment.’

Despite the Council reporting that, ‘Legionella bacteria was detected in some of the taps and showers at Thamesbrook in February,’ their decision to move is so sudden, residents and relatives are not even being given a say in where they will go. ‘We do not have time,’ wrote Liz Bruce Executive Director of Tri-borough Adult Social Care, in a letter to relatives, ‘for the usual consultative process to select the home of people’s choice and to arrange visits prior to a move.’

A sudden move, to a strange place, poses considerable risks to Thamesbrook’s residents. Stressful upheavals have been shown to have such a detrimental effect on the elderly, especially dementia sufferers, they can bring on terminal decline. A Birmingham University study into home closures reported, ‘residents find such transfers severely disruptive emotionally, psychologically and physically. In the worst cases, fatalities result.’ Of ten similar studies reviewed by the London School of Economics, ‘Negative outcomes were reported in nine… Mortality rates following relocation ranged from 0 to 43%’

‘These works are likely to be unreasonably disruptive to resident’s personal care and wellbeing,’ wrote Liz Bruce.

A council spokesperson added, ‘Although the Council closed the home to new residents in March, it was becoming increasingly difficult to provide adequate care to the required standard to the current residents given all of these difficulties.’

Environemntal experts believe the closure seems drastic. ’This seems very unusual,’ she said, ‘in the eighteen years I’ve been managing outbreaks of Legionella in health care facilities, I’ve never had to close a care home or hospital. The Health and Safety Executive provide very clear guidance in their L8 document.’

Though some mystery may surround how the decision was made, in its wake, Chelsea’s local health authority, the West London Clinical Commissioning Group is trying to provide some reassurance. ‘The CCG is working closely with the Council,‘ said Jonathan Webster, Director of Nursing, Quality and Safety, ‘to provide advice and expertise on the clinical risk assessments that need to be carried out before any resident is moved and to ensure the moves are done in a safe and controlled manner.’

UPDATE:

The council wish to point out that as soon as legionella was discovered in the mains drinking water the supply was cut off and bottled water was supplied to the residents.

More information and source Kensington & Chelsea Today

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