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  • Sarah Whitebloom

Mistreatment found by CQC during urgent whistle-blower investigation

Nine separate whistle-blowing alerts sent the Care Quality Commission urgently to investigate serious concerns over the treatment and care of older people at Westacre Nursing Home, Winchester. Inspectors arrived at the home in February – following the whistle-blowing concerns which had been made over the previous few weeks. They found the urgent complaints largely substantiated.

‘'We found the whistle-blower's concerns to be an accurate reflection of the care being delivered at the home.’

Highly unusually, there were even concerns over the treatment of residents while the CQC inspectors were on the premises – making it by some distance OLM’s Worst Care Home of the Week. In one case, residents were allegedly mistreated by a member of staff while in another distressing incident the inspectors heard an older person pleading for help and begging staff to stop.


Earlier this week, the regulator made public its findings in a harrowing report. The CQC declared that the Hampshire-based home is ‘Inadequate’ in every respect – from care to management to safety and effectiveness. This is despite the home having an impressive and clean appearance, a previously ‘Good’ report and relatives and residents expressing satisfaction. As regularly happens, the inspectors’ opinions, borne of several days' close investigation, contrasted sharply with ‘testimonial’ views. And their report contains a horrifying catalogue of failings, including concerns over a negative culture to residents and the regulator.

While the CQC was at Westacre, there were allegations of extremely poor practice and incidents were reported to the local authority. On the second day of the inspection, it was alleged four people received abusive behaviour from a member of staff – including rough and undignified treatment. The inspectors also found residents were routinely referred to by their room numbers and there was evidence of neglect: ‘There was an accepted culture in the home of staff 'doing to people' rather than staff 'supporting people' to do as they wished.’

In the report, the CQC stated: ‘Following our inspection we made three safeguarding referrals to the local authority with regard to the poor and unsafe practices we had witnessed.’

Inspectors voiced serious concerns over numerous other aspects of life, including:

  • The number of suitable and experienced staff.

On one day of our inspection we observed an agency member of staff working alone on several occasions even though it was their first day working in the home. They were clearly unprepared to be working alone as they had to keep asking staff for assistance.

  • There were not enough staff for meal times

At one lunchtime we saw four members of staff were available in a communal lounge and dining area to support 20 people with their meals, most of whom needed some assistance.

  • Residents were at risk of weight loss.

One person we saw they had lost 4.1kg of weight, which was nearly 10% of their body weight, between October and December 2017.

  • People were not protected from abuse, neglect or harassment

  • 21 of 31 members of registered nursing and care staff working in the home had not received up to date training on the safeguarding of people and how to recognise abuse.

  • There was a very poor staff led culture

  • This poor culture and lack of leadership in the home meant we were not assured people received the care they required.

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