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  • Sarah Whitebloom

ANOTHER TERRIBLE WEEK FOR CARE. Third in a row 'worst home of the week' for high-end provide

For the third week in a row, Barchester Healthcare is owner one of OLM’s worst care homes of the week. Barchester, one of the UK’s biggest care providers, boasts on its website: ‘The people we support only ever receive the best.’

But, in the space of just 10 days in November, three of the high-end group’s homes have been slapped with ‘Inadequate’ ratings by the care regulator. Hilderstone Hall, near Stafford, is the latest to be given the worst grade by the Care Quality Commission. There is no mention of this on the company's web page for the home - although it did claim that Hilderstone performed strongly in a nationwide survey

This ‘Inadequate’ rating followed on the heels of bad reports for Barchester’s Stamford Bridge Beaumont home near York and for the group’s Kingsland House in Sussex.

As OLM outlined last week, lack of staff was at the root of problems at Hilderstone. The CQC inspectors said: ‘Staff we spoke with told us there was not enough of them to meet people's needs safely. One staff member said, "People are waiting for us, we know that." Another staff member said, "I don't think there is enough staff.’

But Barchester’s award must be shared with HC-One, whose Maple Court home was also slammed by inspectors last week - mainly because of staff shortages.

HC-One, which is poised to become Britain’s biggest care group, describes itself as ‘The kind care company’. However, the inspectors disagreed in respect of Maple Court. They took the unusual step of giving the Stafford-based home the worst possible score for ‘Caring’. According to the report: ‘A staff member said, "Staffing levels are not safe. Buzzers are going off but they are not being answered. If we had more staff there would be less falls. If I needed care I wouldn't live here because there are not safe staffing levels."’

Bizarrely, the home's web page emphasises that one of the features of Maple Court is that it has 'call bells'. It was HC-One’s second ‘OLM Worst Care Home of the Week’ this autumn.

Maple Court

But the two Big Five firms must share this week's ‘award’ with Nethercrest Nursing Home, Dudley. The independent facility, home to 27 older people, was given ‘Inadequate’ ratings for all five major inspection areas. And the CQC’s report was shocking: ‘This inspection was a responsive inspection following...concerns we had received from the provider and a whistle-blower about people's well-being and safety.

‘These concerns included an incident where one person had been taken into hospital with a fracture. The person's injuries had not been identified...following a fall at the home...the person had not received medical attention for six days...staff at the home had not raised the lack of treatment for the person as a concern straight away.

‘We found another person had an accident at the home, and had not received medical attention for up to three days. This person was also in hospital receiving treatment for a serious injury...The incident was also being investigated.’

Even the staff realised residents were not being properly cared for: ‘One staff member told us, "I would not want my relation here", we asked them why, "It's undignified, staff don't wipe people's hands and face after food, people are left in dirty clothes." Another staff member said, "Today is the first day (for ages) everyone had had a wash before dinner."

‘We saw that people were not always treated with dignity. We observed one person who called out for help.

‘We saw they were not fully dressed and their underwear was visible. After staff responded to their calls for help, we saw they remained in their underwear for another hour before staff offered to dress them.

‘Another person we saw had their skirt pulled up, showing their underwear...This did not protect their dignity. In addition we saw the person was wearing clothing that was dirty. We saw staff did not respond to protect the person's dignity.’

The inspectors concluded: ‘There appeared to be an acceptance or 'culture' within the home that people were not always receiving the care they needed.’

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