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  • Sarah Whitebloom

Worst Care Homes part two: 'I wouldn’t put my Nan in here.'

All unpleasant life appears to be found in worst of the ‘Inadequate’ reports from the CQC over the last six weeks. Several inspections followed ‘incidents’ and even police investigations. Many found lack of staffing to be at the root of problems.

Two homes owned by the Runwood Group, were on the receiving end of very poor reports following ‘incidents’. Chelmunds Court in Birmingham was slammed with five ‘Inadequate’ marks, while sister home, Elizabeth House in Hadleigh received four black marks. Questions were asked, in both cases, about the management of risk – which is often code for insufficient staff.

At Elizabeth House, relatives told staff ‘there were never enough staff around’. And, the inspectors said: ‘One member of staff on two separate occasions was observed to be loud, intimidating and aggressive when talking with one person living at Elizabeth House.’

Elsewhere, inspectors said: ‘People were being supported to get up and go to bed at staffs' convenience rather than at a time of their personal preference.’

The home’s website, meanwhile, said: ‘Our aim is to practise ‘person centred’ care for all our residents, and our trained staff are available 24 hours a day to meet your needs.’

Challoner House, Eastleigh

Staffing was the main issue at this Barchester-owned home – with the CQC concerned that the company did not have a commitment to appropriate staffing levels.

According to the report: ‘Health professional told us they were aware of, "Multiple concerns of neglect presently, not enough staff to meet client's basic needs and apparent push on the part of company directors to maximise occupancy without increasing staffing. Concerns that the increased staffing presently is a response to current large safeguarding enquiry and not a long-term commitment to ensuring the safety of their residents".

One member of staff told the inspectors: ‘ "I wouldn't put my nan in here ever. I would not want her to wait for an hour to go to the toilet". Another staff member said, "Just been constant battle and not achieving everything you want. I like coming to work and want to talk to people and get to know them but haven't got time to do it". A third staff member told us, "A couple of months ago a couple of ladies died, sad as could have died on their own, as didn't have time to be with them. That's when it was bad".

The website states: ‘Considered by many to be the home of choice in the Winchester and Southampton areas – Challoner House offers high quality nursing, residential and dementia care.’

Barchester’s second negative report this month followed concerns over safe care, including staffing levels. Comments included: ‘"They are short of staff and they have in my opinion, people who wouldn't know what to do in the event of a fire. I don't feel safe in the night. There were only three [staff] last night", "Not always, the change of managers is unsettling" and "I am frightened, I don't know what to do, let me out, I want to go away from here."’

Visitors reported residents were not cared for properly and baths were not carried out.

"Lots of residents [people who used the service] are sat around in wheelchairs for long periods despite being reminded [that it was] not appropriate"

Meanwhile, inspectors said: ‘Staff and a relative told us of a concern that was raised about the lack of care for one person who had faeces on their body.’

According to the website: ‘Sherwood Lodge offers high quality residential care for older people within a charming, purpose-built property. Our team of highly trained and professional staff are passionate about providing the best possible care through bespoke plans that are as unique as you are.’

Priory Gardens is owned by HC-One ‘the Kind Care Company’.

Staffing was the biggest issue at this Pontefract home, which received its second ‘Inadequate’ report in two years and is home to 46 vulnerable people.

According to the report: ‘People and relatives told us there were insufficient staff to provide safe and effective care. Many relatives advised us they came in to assist staff otherwise their relation would not be cared for properly.’

No doubt ironically, the website states: ‘Priory Gardens’ Home Manager will make sure that all Residents receive the kindest possible care.’

Ashley Lodge, New Milton, Bupa

Once more staffing was a major issue at this formerly ‘Good’ home.

In a damning statement, the inspectors said: ‘There were insufficient staff deployed to meet people's needs and keep them safe.’

Staff agreed and, shockingly, admitted that some days residents had to stay in bed because there were not enough staff to get them up. According to the report: ‘Three staff members told us they could not always get everyone up each day as they did not have enough staff.

The home claimed ‘Staffing levels on each unit are reviewed regularly to ensure there are sufficient numbers of staff to meet the needs of the residents."

But, the inspectors said: ‘This did not acknowledge or reflect on the concerns with current staffing and people's unmet needs, identified by our inspection team, staff and relatives.’

The website stated: ’By creating a personal care plan for each of our residents, we ensure that they receive the highest level of individual care from our highly trained nurses and care assistants.’

This had previously been a ‘Good’ home but concerns were raised about staffing at the last two inspections. The report says: ‘Comments from people included, "Not enough staff on this floor" and, "I don't think there's sufficient staff to care for people." This was also echoed by people's relatives. One person's relative told us, "No not enough staff."

The website claims: ‘The highest standards of professional nursing, dementia and residential care.’

Brookes House Brentwood,

Owned by Larchwood, staffing is yet again a major issue, with concerns over insufficient regular trained carers. One relative said, "Most staff here don't know how to care for people. They're blinkered. They are more task orientated than people orientated."

The website claims: ‘Occupants are treated as individuals with staff respecting privacy and independence.’

Withy Grove, Preston

Another Larchwood home, another home with insufficient staff – not deployed in the right way.

This home received its seventh bad report since 2014. It can take up to 106 residents but currently has just 27. Nevertheless, serious concerns were voiced over staffing.

‘There was not enough staff on duty to meet people's needs. One relative said, "I don't think there are enough staff."

All staff we spoke with said staffing levels were inadequate. One said, "Staffing levels are terrible. It's not safe." Another said, "It's so unsafe. We've all raised it with [the provider] many times."’

On the website, it claims: ‘We are committed to providing a caring environment that promotes, as far as possible, for every person his/her, independence, privacy, dignity, freedom of choice, rights as a citizen and personal fulfillment.’

Trecarrel House, Tywardreath

This Cornish home also received five bad marks – and the inspectors reported received ‘serious concerns’ before the inspection about people not receiving proper care. Staffing levels were a concern as was leadership.

Trecarrel’s website states: ‘Our aim is to provide quality dementia care within a warm, comfortable homely atmosphere filled with laughter.

The report says: ‘A recurring theme in our conversations was one of a 'chaotic' situation.’

The Vicarage, Manchester

Home to 28 residents, but there were insufficient staff here too.

‘Some visitors and staff told us they felt there were not enough staff. At the start of the inspection the registered manager told us they did not use a dependency tool to assess safe staffing levels; however, the team leader later produced a dependency calculator.’

Inspectors added: ‘Staff told us people often have to wait when they request to go to the toilet as there is not enough staff on duty. One visitor told us, "[Name] is left too long before taking him to the toilet and he's sat in wet."

Lack of staff also appears to have a negative impact on staff behaviour. Cases where poor attitude and lack of care from staff were also often connected to lack of staff.

At Smallcombe House, Bath, a Salvation Army home and at Seahorses in Great Yarmouth, poor practice was uncovered.

At The Chase in Watford, an 86-bed home, there were allegations of poor care, neglect and physical abuse.

One relative told us "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 me. Management say that they will look into it.”

Meanwhile, a staff member said: ‘Staff are always too busy.’ Another staff member told us, "We would like time to be able to just sit and chat with people but there never is time."’

CQC investigated after two people raised concerns about poor practice by some staff.

According to the report: ‘Staff reported one person's actions put staff at risk of harm. We looked at the person's care records and saw they had abused people living at the home, both physically and sexually, leaving people distressed and needing reassurance

Some people told us they did not feel safe in the home.’

There were particular concerns about certain homes for people with disabilities.

Carlton Lodge, Normanton,

There were ‘insufficient staff’ and the inspectors found: ‘People told us they did not feel safe. One person said they felt unsafe because staff shouted all the time and did not supervise people properly. Two people told us they were afraid of other people's behaviour.’

Oakapple care home in Mansfield

Just 10 people lived at this home but there were concerns over staffing and the home received a very poor report.

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