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  • Sarah Whitebloom

The Best of Care, The Worst of Care - OLM best and worst homes of the week

OlderLivingMatters has reached a milestone of 50 ‘Worst Homes of the Week’ named since the website began last year. It is a hall of fame of which no one wants to be part and one which is joined today by two worthy contenders: Duchess Gardens in Bingley, Yorkshire, and Orchard Lodge, in Horsham, Sussex – which is owned by the crisis-hit care group Sussex Healthcare. Yesterday, Police confirmed they have interviewed a woman under caution for ‘gross negligence manslaughter’ in connection with Sussex Healthcare.

To mark the occasion of our 50th 'worst' home, OLM is inaugurating a new award – Best Care Home of the Week. Poor care is to be found in far too many homes and we have become accustomed to dreadful reports of appalling treatment. But there are also moving examples of excellence each week - sadly, fewer in number. But, as OLM has reported before, some residential homes really do deliver what they promise, which makes it all the more troubling when others do not. Our first Best Care Home of the Week award goes to Red Oaks, a care home in Henfield, Sussex which last week received a glowing report and a rare coveted ‘Outstanding’ rating from the CQC. Owned by the homes group Barchester, the report on Red Oaks underlines how it is possible to provide good quality care in the south east, keep good quality staff and not spend a fortune. Many congratulations Red Oaks.

Duchess Gardens, which has never had a good report, last week brought tears to OLM's eyes for entirely different reasons. The Bradford-based home was given an ‘Inadequate’ rating by the care regulator – not its first. The 131-bed home, which was acquired by new owners Qualia in February 2017, was condemned in a highly-critical report of nearly all aspects of life.

In an upsetting document, the CQC describes how the residents were not getting enough to eat or drink to ‘sustain good health’, were not protected from abuse, were not given appropriate care or treatment and were not treated with dignity or respect.

The home was described as generally clean and tidy but the CQC inspectors found nine breaches of regulations and they reported elderly and vulnerable people being left unattended for long periods of time – even when the regulatory team was present. They said: ‘We saw some people who did not look well cared for their hair had not been brushed or combed and some were wearing clothing with food spills on it. For example, we saw one person trying to push their hair out of their eyes as it had not been brushed that morning.’

And the inspectors said: ‘We also heard the way care workers were speaking to people changed when another inspector arrived on the unit. This concerned us as clearly staff knew how they should be speaking with people but left to their own devices chose to ignore this.’

Red Oaks, our Best Home of the Week, is only a short distance from the home which has the dubious honour of being our 50th worst home. Orchard Lodge, owned by the troubled provider SHC, receives the Worst Care Home award after receiving its second ‘inadequate’ report in less than six months. Disturbingly, the inspectors said that, if the home applied for registration today, the application would probably not be granted.

After all the attention, intervention and general focus on the SHC group, it will be surprising to industry watchers that Orchard Lodge has failed to improve its rating. The local authority also issued a warning last week that it has ‘significant safeguarding concerns’ about the home, along with two other SHC facilities – The Laurels and Rapkyns Nursing Home.

There were seven other ‘Inadequate’ reports since our last report. These related to:

Meadbank, Battersea – owned by Bupa

Rowan Close, Southampton

Rockley Dene Residential, Barnsley

Oaklands, Hereford

There was only one other ‘Outstanding’ report – into Milton Keynes Short Breaks and Shared Lives.

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