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  • Sarah Whitebloom

Abuse, allegations and anonymous tip-offs: CQC changed its mind after warnings. This week's Wors

Anonymous tip-offs and warnings over abuse, welfare and even threats to physical safety saw care homes from Newcastle to Newton Abbot raided by The Care Quality Commission, according to reports last week.

Three homes were branded ‘Inadequate’ by the regulator – which launched unannounced investigations on the back of the allegations.

Each of the three homes – Park House, Newcastle; Kingsclear, Camberley and Rosemount, Newton Abbot – were found to be falling well short of required standards and the CQC’s shocking reports make clear that elderly and vulnerable residents are at risk in each location.

Reports show, however, that each had been awarded higher ratings within the last year – indicating that problems were only uncovered after third parties raised the alarm.

Before last week’s ‘Inadequate’ report, Park House had been declared to ‘Require Improvement’. In November 2017, the Akari-owned home needed to make changes in all areas but the report was far from damning. Last week, however, the CQC branded the home ‘Inadequate’ and said: ‘The inspection was prompted after CQC received an anonymous allegation of abuse at the home. We reported these concerns to the police, local authority safeguarding team and the provider. These concerns are subject to an investigation...Staff and some of the people who used the service, described a negative culture on the upstairs floor of the home caused by specific staff members.’

There is a similar story at Kingsclear, which was declared to ‘Require Improvement’ in March this year – less than two months before the Surrey home was declared ‘Inadequate’.

CQC’s report last week says: ‘We undertook an unannounced focused inspection of Kingsclear on 1 May 2018. This inspection was done following receiving concerns from the local authority safeguarding team.

‘They had received a report from a relative regarding an incident between two people living at Kingsclear. The safeguarding team visited Kingsclear as they had not been made aware of the reported incident. During their visit they found evidence of a number of other altercations between people which had resulted in injuries or near misses.’

We have saved the worst until last. In February this year, three months before finding Rosemount ‘Inadequate’ in four of five key areas, the Devon-based home was found to be ‘Good’ and was described as ‘brilliant’. The regulator admits it returned to the home because it was ‘made aware of an incident where one person did not receive appropriate medical support in a timely manner’ – which sounds very scary. And local healthcare professionals had voiced concerns over the home – after the ‘Good’ February report.

Once the CQC had been made aware there were problems at the home, the change in attitude is clear. In the February ‘Good’ report, the CQC said: ‘We found improvements had been made and people benefitted from a comfortable and pleasant living environment. The lounge and dining area had been redecorated and a new carpet had been fitted.’

But, in July, the CQC said: ‘People were not protected from the risk of harm as they were living in an environment that was not always safe. For instance, frayed carpets posed a trip hazard and people were at risk from falling from windows that did not comply with Health and Safety Executive guidance.’

In February, the regulator said: ‘We found checks were completed on the internal and external environment and premises, including equipment and fire safety. We found these checks were up to date and the environment was safe and equipment seen was appropriate and in working order.’

But, in July, the CQC said: ‘The label on the fire extinguisher in the laundry stated it was last tested in September 2015 and someone had written in black pen, 'do not use out of order'.’

The inspectors also described starkly different atmospheres.

In February, the CQC said: ‘There were laughs and hugs between staff and the people they supported.... People told us staff were responsive to their needs, they told us they never had to wait long for staff to respond to their call bells. One person said "Never wanted anybody [staff] and they haven't come straight away [to answer the call bell]." Another person said they had never had to wait for anything.’

In July, however, the inspectors’ report maintained: ‘The relationships between staff and people receiving care and support did not always demonstrate that people were treated with dignity and respect.

Montana Residential Home On an entirely more cheerful note, three cheers for – based in Bury St Edmunds and run by the Benedictine Sisters of Grace and Compassion. An outstanding home, according to the CQC report, which found it to be excellent in almost all respects. Well done Sisters.

For various boring reasons, OLM has not published a worst care home of the week report since June. So today we looked at CQC reports published between 30 June and 12 July. There were 11 homes for older people declared ‘Inadequate’ in that period. In addition to our three ‘Worst Homes’ these were:

Victoria Cottage, Nottingham

Chestnut House, Dorchester

Sandrock, Birkenhead

Southwater, Paignton

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