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  • Sarah Whitebloom

Big and Small, private and corporate: Worst Care Homes of the Week

You cannot judge a residential home by its cover, website and particularly not by its review rating. And you cannot tell if care is going to be bad because a home appears old-fashioned or because it is purpose-built. Last week’s ‘worst care homes of the week’ fall into both categories – big and small, private and corporate, bad...and worse.

The Chase

The Chase Care Centre in Watford is enormous. Able to accommodate 110 people, it must be one of the biggest homes in the country. It is rated highly on industry review sites with scores of more than nine out of 10. It is owned by a burgeoning chain, Healthcare Homes, and has impressive-looking purpose-built premises.

It was also given the worst possible rating last week by Care Quality Commission inspectors, after concerns were raised about the Watford-based super-home.

The CQC had little, if anything, good to say about the Chase, which is currently home to 86 vulnerable residents and they awarded it ‘Inadequate’ grades for safety, caring, effectiveness and management.

According to Healthcare Homes: ‘Caring is at the heart of everything we do.’

But, inspectors found, residents unhappy: ‘One person told us, "I don't think anyone is actually unkind. They're well trained." Another person said: "Being honest, some of the staff are not the staff I would employ myself." Some people we spoke with told us that there was a high use of agency staff which made consistency of care difficult.’

The CQC maintained: ‘We observed several examples where people were moved without staff speaking or explaining what was happening when providing care, staff walking into people's bedrooms without knocking and putting their bedroom lights on when they were still asleep.’

And they added: ‘We observed a staff member enter a person's room without knocking. They proceeded to sit opposite the person and did some paperwork without speaking. The person became agitated and kicked their covers off.

The staff member did not speak or reassure the person but just threw the cover back over the person and left the room.’

A concerned relative told the CQC: ‘" The home was good once, but now it's a terrible place and I have been unhappy with the care of (name) since Christmas." Another person told us "Staff are being rude to me and are insulting to me. Management say that they will look into it. I'm getting upset and not sleeping." They went on to say "One of the male carers said to me "You can do that, you're quite capable, you don't need a night bag you're quite capable of going to the bathroom."

According to the CQC report, the person continued: ‘"They made me feel degraded and I felt like I was being treated like a child." A relative who we spoke with told us "I don't like complaining, but there are 'too many excuses, nobody really knows what's going on, people just don't care. What the hell are we paying for?"

Meanwhile, no report was available on the CQC website for Alexandria’s home in Gravesend, which was also awarded an ‘Inadequate’ rating last week. But the regulator warned that it is taking action against the home, which is privately owned.

Just 10 residents live at the Kent home, which has had four reports in the last 18 months. It has gone from Good in December 2016 to Inadequate in June 2017, after concerns were raised by third parties. Then it was deemed to have improved by Jan 2018 when it was re-graded as ‘Requires Improvement’. Finally, last week, it was found Inadequate – again.

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