Lovely surroundings, glossy website promises and a household name owner, Riverside Court looks as though it would definitely pass the ‘Mum’ test – set out earlier this month by the Care Quality Commission’s Andrea Sutcliffe. And yet, it does not.
In fact, last Wednesday a report was published depicting a horrifying vision of life in the Priory's so-called ‘high standard’ home in Knottingley, West Yorkshire.
Far from being a lovely, safe place for ‘Mum’, purpose-built Riverside Court was rated ‘Inadequate’ in every respect from safety to caring to leadership – putting paid to the idea that a good name, high prices and nice surroundings is any guarantee of good quality when it comes to care. It is OLM's Worst Care Home of the Week.
In a truly upsetting report, the inspectors document a home desperately short of staff, where residents are left in bed – for days, where older people are treated without dignity or care and where they even witnessed a fight. On Priory’s glossy website, it claims the home offers ‘a modern and supportive environment’.
In reality, older residents were found struggling to eat, dressed in dirty clothes and not allowed to shower as often as they wished. The CQC team also reported residents calling out, distressed and even in tears while staff appeared unwilling or incapable of providing help. In fact, staff acknowledged there were not enough of them to keep people safe and, in a telling exchange, the deputy manager admitted the staffing levels were ‘sometimes acceptable’.
Given the insufficient staff numbers, problems were obvious to the inspectors: ‘We observed an incident between two people in the lounge on the Shannon unit; no staff were in attendance and two people hit one another.’
In the dining room, meanwhile, the inspectors said: ‘We saw one person try to eat their meal with their fork handle and knife for some time until we brought this to staff's attention. Another person was asking for help throughout the meal without any being offered until a member of kitchen staff came to their assistance.’
The report contains a litany of concerns about the care received by residents and this is shockingly shown by one incident: ‘We observed one person walking around the lounge with their trousers falling down and their buttocks and incontinence pad clearly visible. None of the staff who came in and out of the room attended to this.’
In June last year, Riverside Court was criticised by the CQC and found to 'Require Improvement' in all areas. Some 60 residents were in the home when the CQC returned a year later, to find that the home had not improved but deteriorated. Questions are certain to be asked as to how this was allowed to happen. Residents and their families had relied on the CQC to drive improvement, but Riverside had become worse in all respects.
Riverside Court offers accommodation to private and publicly-funded residents – some of whom can pay a top-up to live in nicer rooms. It is ultimately owned by the well-known Priory Group, apparently through a subsidiary Craegmoor, although according to the CQC website it is owned by Speciality Care (UK lease homes) and no mention is made of The Priory Group.
But, the Priory's website maintains that Riverside Court was formerly owned by Amore Care, another subsidiary, which currently owns seven homes – all poorly rated.