When Eating Disorder care isn’t good enough (Schoen Clinic, York)

When Eating Disorder care isn’t good enough (Schoen Clinic, York)

In the past couple of days, a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report deemed the Schoen Clinic, York ‘inadequate’, and I wanted to talk about this, and about when Eating Disorder care isn’t good enough.

The Schoen Clinic in York is one of a number of specialist Eating Disorder inpatient settings run by Newbridge Care Systems.  Schoen Clinics’ have previously been highly-praised and respected private options for the higher levels of care needed by some of those with Eating Disorders – so I was surprised last year when the York clinic was termed ‘in need of improvement’ by a previous CQC assessment.

This week’s report now branding the service ‘inadequate’ places the clinic under special measures, which means that if improvement isn’t achieved within the coming 6 months the service is likely to be forced to closed.

The report found a system of failings across all areas for which services are assessed, and highlighted issues such as premises that were not fit for purpose (deemed unsafe due to ligature risk points), lack of staff training, some medication errors and regular issues where food staples (such as milk) were not available.

CQC overview

I won‘t recount all of the findings here (you can read the full report HERE if you are interested) but I was appalled to see one of the required changes stated by the report was to “ensure that all staff treat patients with dignity and respect”, along with a long list of concerns about safety and risk management.  Some things really are non-negotiables – and for me, these are especially important.

I can’t help but wonder – what has been the impact of the inadequate provision of this service on the patients?

I have all too often worked with, and otherwise had, conversations with, individuals who have received what they might consider a sub-optimal or even harmful treatment.  These types of experiences can have long lasting impacts on those people affected, who might be put off from accessing the help they need in the future, might find it hard to trust professionals again, or may have even been traumatised and need additional support to recover from that.

I am glad we have a system in place to asses services in this way – and that the poor service being offered by the clinic was therefore reviewed, and is hopefully being improved.  However, a lot of harm could be done in just a week, or even a day of poor care – especially when this comes to risk management.

We are all human, and mistakes do happen.  I am sure I have made mistakes in my years as a therapist, and I am sure I will make them in the future.  However, it is vital that we learn from our mistakes, and do what we can to repair the harm caused, while ensuring that the same mistake is not repeated. I hope that is the outcome in this instance, too.

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