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  • Sarah Whitebloom

When we said 'Good', we meant 'Bad' - CQC reverses ratings on care homes

Both were owned by small care home chains and both had been given a recent thumbs-up from the regulator in the shape of ‘Good’ inspection reports. So how is it that, in little over a year, Norton Lees Lodge and Hall, Sheffield, and Bartley Green Lodge, Birmingham have both plunged to ‘Inadequate’ status and are last week’s Worst Homes of the Week?

Bartley Green Lodge

Norton Lees was on the receiving end of a damning report by the Care Quality Commission on 19 May and was subsequently placed into administration by its owner Orchard Homes. It is now being run by an Administrator. Meanwhile, Bartley Green, owned by Sanctuary Care, received a shockingly-bad CQC report and has been put into special measures. In each case, the CQC had given the homes glowing reports just over a year before then realising they were now er...‘Inadequate’.

At Bartley Green, the Sanctuary website claims: ‘We pride ourselves on treating people as individuals, so all our residents have care plans tailored to their individual medical, social and emotional needs. We review care plans on a regular basis and involve family and friends in this process wherever possible.’

It was apparent to the CQC, though, that there were not enough staff and that the home did not properly protect residents: ‘We identified that the registered provider and staff had failed to recognise the abuse people had experienced at the service.’

And, according to the latest CQC report: ‘The inspection was prompted in part by increased statutory notifications from the registered provider....The notifications indicated potential concerns about the management of people's care needs.’

The 'Good’ report received in 2017 by Norton Lees and Lodge in Sheffield turned from green to red last week as it too was declared ‘Inadequate’. The CQC did not, in this case, explain why it had returned to the home so rapidly. But there was clearly some reason for re-inspecting, since it is usually two years or more before a ‘Good’ home is revisited by the CQC.

According to the report, though, there were significant problems. Families complained about the treatment of their loved ones: ‘One relative said, "I complain all the time, nothing gets done really. I will wait and see if it goes back (care provided) again, it usually does." One relative described how they had made a formal complaint about their family member's clothes going missing. They told us they had not received a formal response. They also told us the issue with the laundry had not been resolved. They were still finding their family member in clothes that did not belong to them, including men's clothing.’

Meanwhile, the CQC team noticed other issues: ‘We looked around both units and found several areas of concern. The four kitchenettes on both units were in poor repair. They all had damaged cupboards and drawers and some of the drawers contained hair brushes which should not be stored where food was being served.’

Could it be that the inspectors had failed to notice these problems a year ago? Or could it be that they simply were not there, when the CQC carried out their previous inspections? Maybe the homes had worsened dramatically in the space of 12 months.

Whatever is the case, it is very worrying for confidence in the CQC’s inspection system.

There were no 'Outstanding' homes in the last seven days.

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