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  • Sarah Whitebloom

All that glitters is not gold - particularly when it comes to care homes

This has been a black week for the big care groups. More than double the percentage of corporate homes were given poor reports in the last seven days by official inspectors as received good ratings.

Altogether, 15 per cent of the old age homes given a ‘Requires Improvement’ grade between 21 and 27 September were owned by Big Five groups – compared with just six per cent of homes given a ‘Good’ rating. The Big Five are – Barchester, Bupa, Care UK, Four Seasons and HC-One. They control as many as 20 per cent of domestic homes.

This week’s list reveals Bupa had a mixed seven days, with two of its homes receiving ‘Good’ ratings and three being awarded ‘Requires Improvement’. Meanwhile, HC-One had one good report and two ‘Requires Improvement’. Care UK and Barchester were given one ‘Requires Improvement’ report apiece, while Four Seasons received an ‘Inadequate’ report for its Westroyd Home in Loughborough, while its Tamaris subsidiary received one ‘Good’ report.

Older people in Stoke-on-Trent, meanwhile, need to take very great care. Completely independently, two of the city’s care homes have received the worst possible marks from the CQC inspectors - to make them OLM’s worst homes of the week, along with a Colchester home. A key factor at all three failings was lack of staff and the safety of residents.

Trippier in Essex, along with New Park House and Ravenswood in the Potteries – were given the lowest possible ratings: red marks in all five inspected categories: safety, leadership, effectiveness, care and responsiveness.

New Park House is home to 69 vulnerable older people in Stoke and proof that you should not judge a book or a care home by its appearance. The inspectors said: ‘We had received serious information of concern from the local authority (LA) and clinical commissioning group (CCG) following a quality monitoring visit they had undertaken...

‘People were at serious risk of harm as staff were not meeting people's needs in a safe and consistent way. There were insufficient numbers of suitably trained staff to support people with even their basic needs. Risks of harm to people were not being assessed, monitored or minimised as action was not being taken to mitigate the risk following incident and accidents that had resulted or could result in harm to the person.’

At recently-built Ravenswood, meanwhile, which is home to 46 older people: ‘People did not always have their needs met, because there was not enough staff to meet people’s needs. Where people were at risk, staff did not understand how to manage the risks to keep people safe. People did not always receive their medicines safely.’

inspectors did not mince their words about the modern Essex facility, currently home to 29 older people: ‘There were not enough staff to provide adequate supervision, nutritional support, stimulation and meaningful activity. This had a direct impact on people’s safety and welfare.’

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