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  • Sarah Whitebloom

'Dirty Dozen' care homes unsafe - elderly kept in bed 20 hours a day for lack of staff

TWELVE care homes were this week branded ‘Inadequate’ by the care regulator – all of them failed in the critical area of safety, all of them failed in terms of management. Homes from around the country are in the dirty dozen including a Lancashire home which has since been closed down and a Birmingham home which has received no fewer than 12 negative reports from the Care Quality Commission.

Four share OLM’s ‘Worst Care Home of the Week’ –

  • Greenfield House, Morecombe – a shockingly bad home, now closed

  • Finney House, Preston – a brand new home, owned by high-end operator London and Manchester Healthcare

  • Meadow Lodge, Birmingham – which received the worst rating for all aspects of life.

  • Milverton Gates, Coventry - which is owned by homes group Four Seasons.

Greenfield House, now closed, was owned by Christine Parker. She also owns Greenroyd Care Home in Lancaster – which was on the shortlist for OLM's worst care of 2017 - but has recently been upgraded to a home ‘Requiring Improvement’.

There was a catalogue of problems at the now defunct home, however.

In a litany of problems, the inspectors said there was no cleaner. The CQC reported finding faeces on the carpet in one room – which was still there two days later.

The inspectors described chaotic scenes in which care records were inaccurate, recruitment processes were an issue, medicines were not properly managed, the home was not adequately maintained and the owner along with the manager were helping with the cleaning

There were not enough staff to offer safe care and anyway they were not properly trained. Call bells were not working. There was not even enough cutlery and there was only one bathroom in use for 21 people.

Allegations against a member of staff had not been followed up, safeguarding incidents had not been reported and the inspectors were highly-critical of the provider. There was little or nothing positive to say about the home. According to the report: ‘During our inspection visit, staff spoke fondly about the people who lived at the home. Two staff became visibly upset when talking about the concerns they had identified in regards to the management of the home.’

Finney House, meanwhile, is at the opposite end of the care home spectrum. A brand new clearly high-end facility, the provider’s website boasts of it being ‘more like a five star hotel’. The ome, named after the footballer of yesteryear Tom Finney, is described as ‘the perfect choice’ on the company website. But it failed to mention [on 24 March] the CQC’s ‘Inadequate’ rating of two days earlier.

It was clear from the report, the purpose-built home appears an impressive facility. But appearance is not the main key when it comes to care.The CQC identified serious shortcomings – and gave Finney House four ‘inadequate’ ratings – for everything from safety to management to effectiveness. Only in relation to ‘care’ – which depends on staff attitudes, was it found to be better than inadequate.

The home was found guilty of breaching nine health and safety regulations and has been placed in special measures.

Most concerns centred on the number and training of staff – particularly since the home has had so many people approaching the end of their life. The inspectors stated: ‘We found there were not enough suitably skilled and trained staff to meet the needs of people in the home.’

Disturbingly, they added: ‘Records showed the home had 66 deaths since October 2016. This showed us that the home were supporting a large amount of people at the end of their life and on palliative care. However, staff only had basic e-learning available to them and this had only been completed by 20 staff at the home.’

Meadow Lodge in Birmingham had no redeeming features, according to the CQC. It is dirty, unhygienic, the food is not good and there is a lack of compassion for elderly residents, some of whom were found to be unkempt and freezing cold. A health care professional told the CQC: ‘"The downstairs toilet is awful, it stinks and the sink and taps are filthy," and "I have an infection control issue there, there is nowhere to wash your hands, no paper towels or hand gel."’

Another said: ‘"The staff are so busy they can't care." During our inspection we saw that staff focussed on care tasks with people, but did not spend time with them. The provider did not have a tool to amend the staffing numbers depending on people's needs and we found that there were not enough staff to support people with anything other than care tasks.’

The report added: ‘A health care professional told us they had witnessed a significant lack of kindness and compassion on a number of occasions. They reassured us that it was not a matter of unsafe care, more of an uncaring attitude from some staff.’

Milverton Gates was also suffering from a shortage of staff. The Coventry-based home, which is owned by leading homes group Four Seasons, was criticised over safety and over the treatment of residents.

‘The provider had not taken sufficient steps to ensure people lived in a safe and clean environment,’ according to the CQC report.

Accidents and incidents were not always properly investigated. And, the report says: ‘Staff told us they could not provide safe care at night.’

Residents, meanwhile, were left in bed until lunchtime because of staff shortages. And, in a shocking passage, the CQC said: ‘We saw on one floor at 6.50pm all people in the home were in bed. When we asked staff why this was we were told, "They are only allowed to be out of bed for four hours. That's how it works here."’

In a highly-unusual decision, the group has decided to stop taking further placements in order to focus on making the required improvements.

The other ‘Inadequate’ homes between 18 and 23 March - all worthy of mention - were

Castlerea House – Salford

Rowena House – Beckenham

Charing Court – Charing

Lent Rise House - Slough

Highcroft Hall – Wolverhampton - owned by Sanctuary Care

Heathercroft – Warrington

Trinity House – Northampton

Giltbrook – Nottingham

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