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  • Sarah Whitebloom

Vulnerable can be left at risk of poor care - despite damning reports

Another week, another slew of disgraceful reports on England’s residential homes.

The care industry’s glass may be half full, but it is impossible for anyone else to ignore the empty half. Fifty per cent of reports into care homes in the last fortnight have been poor with more than 14 per cent of homes actually described as ‘Inadequate’.

These Inadequate facilities are home to hundreds of vulnerable older people, who may be living with appalling standards of care and service. And even more worrying is that these homes often have a track record of poor reports and failed inspections. Yet they continue in business, caring for sick and frail people. What do they have to do to be closed down?

And what is going on in Walsall in the West Midlands? In the last fortnight, three of Walsall’s care homes – Parklands Court, Angel Court and Leighswood – all received ‘Inadequate’ reports. This follows an ‘Inadequate’ report earlier in the month on another Walsall home, HC-One’s Ash Grange.

Shockingly, another household name provider, Bupa, owns Parklands Court – which is home to more than 150 people. And Angel Court’s owner, Mrs Bimla Purmah, is the self-same provider who brought us last week’s worst care home of the week – Angel Court in Birmingham.

The inspectors said of Parklands:The provider had insufficient numbers of staff effectively ensure people were safe.’

They added: ‘There were not enough staff to deliver the level of personal care people required due to their dependency levels. Staff confirmed it was not unusual for some people not to be washed or supported with personal care until after lunch.’

Meanwhile, a report into Southminster Residential Home in Essex reveals just how quickly things can go wrong in a care home – which must raise concerns about the safety of residents and highlights the fact that many homes which receive bad reports have a chequered past.

Although Southminster’s previous report was ‘Good’, there were two earlier poor reports, which raised serious concerns And the most recent CQC inspection found that the care home had relapsed and was now ‘Inadequate’ in every aspect of care – safety, leadership, responsiveness, caring and effectiveness.

According to the inspectors: ‘We had received a number of complaints about the service since the last inspection which highlighted lack of staff presence in communal areas at times, and relatives having to search the building for staff to support people in need. One person reported to us, "The staff were nowhere; we always have trouble finding them."’

The report continued: ‘People were not always treated with care, dignity and kindness. We were concerned about the culture at the service and examples of poor practice, understanding and oversight displayed by the senior leadership.

Complaints received by the Commission informed us that people, relatives and staff were scared to speak out. One person wrote, "Staff can be really rude if you raise a concern. I am scared to say anything now."

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