• Sarah Whitebloom

Homes branded 'Inadequate' by CQC still given glowing website reports by big care groups


Unsafe, unsanitary and uncaring – but costing upwards of £1,200 a week. Britain’s big care groups are back with a bang as a trio of homes belonging to top homes firms share the latest Worst Care Home of the Week ‘award’ from OlderLivingMatters.

Since the beginning of the year, this ‘accolade’ has been won by independent homes and smaller groups. But the care regulator, the CQC, last week gave three damning ‘Inadequate’ reports to top-flight care homes. These highlighted the enormous gulf between what the corporate providers claim and the reality of life for elderly residents. The three homes are:

Milner House, Leatherhead, owned by the growing high-end operator, Care UK.

Hemsworth Park, Wakefield, owned by Four Seasons along with Amelia House, York, owned by Four Seasons’ subsidiary Tamaris.

Despite the level of experience and expertise within such large groups, basic failings in the three homes must call into question the success, or otherwise, of providing care on a corporate scale.

On the Care UK website, Milner House is described as ‘Our stunning home’ and the company boasts about its history as well as informing interested parties that nursing costs from £1,200 a week.

INADEQUATE - MILNER HOUSE

According to the CQC, however, residents were not always treated in a dignified way: ‘Half of the people that we spoke with told us that they had encountered staff that appeared reluctant to provide support to them.’

They added: ‘One person told us that they requested a snack at night time. They said that the night staff were reluctant to do so and threw a bag of crisps onto the person's bed.’

The inspectors also reported that, in the historic house, frail people were at risk from unsafe handling techniques and they had ‘serious concerns’ over infection control.

On its website, the company claims: ‘We get to know each of our residents.’

But the CQC reported: ‘Throughout the day, we noted times in communal areas where there was limited staff supervision.’

And the inspectors went on to say: ‘Incident records showed that there had been six unwitnessed falls in the last month. This was a high number for a home of this size and indicated that staff were often not around when people suffered falls.’

As part of their £1,200+ weekly experience, Milner House says: ‘We encourage residents to get involved in the day-to-day life of the home, for example by making cups of tea or arranging flowers. It’s something that we call Activity Based Care.’

But the inspectors reported: ‘One person said, "The weekends are horrible. None of us like the weekends. It's lonely and nothing ever goes on."’

Meanwhile, in respect of Hemsworth Park, the CQC could not have been more damning. The Pontefract-based home’s website describes how staff ‘listen’ and get to know each resident to ‘make sure they get the best out of each day’.

INADEQUATE - HEMSWORTH PARK

The inspectors, however, said the home was ‘Inadequate’ in every respect – from safety to caring to management. They voiced particular concerns over the handling of medicines and the shortage of staff – which left elderly residents vulnerable to harm and neglect.

Comments included, "Sometimes it's chaos here - they get short staffed," "When I call from help - they come and apologise and say they won't be long - but they take a long time," "This place is not run properly - there are not enough staff," and "There has definitely been a cut in staff since I came to live here." Some people gave examples of how staffing levels had an impact on their experience of care, for example one person said staff were not always able to respond to their continence needs in a timely way, which left them feeling frustrated.’

And a member of staff even told the inspectors: ‘I could cry when I go home as I can't give the care they should have. It's not right.’

The CQC further said: ‘We saw people often spent much of their day either seated in one position or in bed. For example, on one unit we saw two people seated in their wheelchairs in the dining room at 9am. They remained like this until late afternoon with little interaction from staff.’

According to the website, staff are ‘very attentive’ to residents’ needs.

But the report revealed: ‘When we arrived on the second day of our inspection some people in the lounge on the Vale View unit told us they were hungry and thirsty. We did not see evidence they had been offered anything to eat or drink since they had got up. One was calling out, "Breakfast please, oh please. When? When?" Another person called out, "Come on, a drink, a cup of tea, anything." We saw staff walk past people asking for food and drinks.’

Amelia House, owned by Four Season’s subsidiary Tamaris, also received an ‘Inadequate’ report last week from the CQC. According to website: ‘Listening to our residents is one of the most important things we do, so that we can truly get to know them and make sure they get the most out of every day. Our busy programme includes group and 1-to-1 activity sessions, trips and outings, visits from local entertainers and themed events throughout the year.’

INADEQUATE - AMELIA HOUSE

But, according to the inspectors’ report, the home is unsafe and they found five breaches of the Health and Social Care Act 2008. Plus, the CQC said it went into Amelia House because ‘of an incident following which a person using the service sustained a serious injury. This incident is subject to a criminal investigation and as a result this inspection did not examine the circumstances of the incident. However, the information shared with CQC about the incident indicated potential concerns about the management of risk of falls’.

The CQC added: ‘We concluded the delivery of care was reliant on individual members of the staff team, who knew people and demonstrated a commitment to caring for people. It was not based on good leadership, systems and record keeping which would enable the registered provider to assure themselves they were delivering good quality care or to improve the service provided.’

Other homes which received Inadequate reports last week were:

Hilsea Lodge, Portsmouth

Joseph House, Southend

Whittingham House, Southend

Linthorpe, Middlesbrough

Bierley Court, Bradford

St George’s, Wallasey

Willow Cottage, Bristol

Grove Villa, Deal

#CareHomes #Profits

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