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  • Sarah Whitebloom

Worst Care of 2018 - the Industry Awards no one wants to win.

THERE were so many appalling official reports into care homes last year, OLM’s judges found it impossible to agree on an overall winner of the 2018 Worst Care of the year award.

These anti-prizes follow 'Inadequate' reports from the Care Quality Commission and have been chosen by a panel of independent judges. They do not simply reflect the number of poor marks but take account of the home's ratings as well as its regulatory history and the seriousness and implications of the inspectors' findings.

After much deliberation, the overall bottom spot is, therefore, be shared - in alphabetical order - between The Links, Bradford owned by Care Worldwide, Long Meadow in Ripon, which boasts one of the worst reports ever written and Rosemount, a Devon-based home with an appalling CQC report

At the heart of most poor care identified by the CQC in 2018 was lack of staff. This was at the root of most bad reports and put thousands of older people throughout the country at risk and forced them to endure unacceptably poor standards of care. Some in the industry claim lack of staff is a result of Government cuts and Local Authority budgets. But OLM found that even homes which charge high prices for care, do not always provide enough staff to provide adequate care or even to keep vulnerable residents safe - as providers put profits before people.


Care Worldwide’s swish-looking purpose-built residence, The Links in Bradford, is home to up to 85 people with mental health issues including dementia. But according to one judge, the report on this home was ‘about as bad as it gets’. The CQC inspectors state: ‘Staff told us there were not enough staff. One member of care staff told us, "There is not enough staff here. I feel it's unsafe and an accident waiting to happen."’

​The team added: ‘In one person's bedroom we found the plastic mattress cover on the bed was very dirty and a pile of dirty urine soaked clothes within the en-suite bathroom. The urine stains suggested they had been there a long time.'

Another winner in this category is Long Meadow. Despite its grand Georgian appearance, Long Meadow’s report is scathing in all respects and OLM’s judges drew attention to the fact that the home has 'not had a positive report since 2012'.

The CQC report said that there were 33 older people living in the home at the time of the July inspection. The central problem was ‘Insufficient numbers of staff’. The report states: 'Between 11.30am and 12 midday on the first floor we saw multiple people ringing for attention and/or calling for staff. Some were crying out asking for the toilet. One person said, "Help me to get washed and dressed."'

​The inspectors continued: 'We observed the person was living in a bedroom that was extremely unpleasant due to foul odours. Their bedding was dirty and the appearance of their hair and skin indicated they had not washed or bathed for some time.'

Judges also nominated Rosemount in Newton Abbot, Devon. It is recorded on the CQC site as a live care home, but it was impossible to reach yesterday. The small independent residence received a glowing rating on an industry website, but left CQC inspectors clearly shocked in June at the conditions endured by the residents. According to OLM’s head judge: ‘Four out of five categories were rated as inadequate, and one rated as requires improvement. The damning CQC report shows a cavalier attitude to resident safety (including fire safety), absence of some staff references, and several breaches of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014.’

The CQC report states: 'The way the home was managed did not promote a caring ethos. People were not always treated with dignity and respect. We observed on occasions, staff would walk into a room and not acknowledge the people there. Some staff spoke in a disrespectful manner about the people they supported. For example, one staff member referred to people needing support to eat as "feeders".'

Worst Care in a Corporate Home

This category saw several homes vying for position in addition to Care Worldwide's The Links.

A winner was the River View Care Centre in Reading, owned by Maria Mallaband group.

Several judges drew attention to November’s damning report on the home. It reveals: 'During our [return] visit on 17 October 2018, we found that the service was again not clean. Bedrooms and units had extreme pungent odours of incontinence.'

One judge said: ‘Residents’ dignity and hygiene were clearly not a priority. When relatives are reluctant to speak out about specific concerns around the care of their loved ones at a care home, that suggests a culture of fear.’

Another judge said: ‘Two staff did not have evidence that they were of good character. One staff member's name did not match that on their DBS.’

Runner-up in this category goes to the high-end home Chelmunds Court in Birmingham, which is owned by Runwood Homes. Judges were shocked at the description by the official inspectors. Although Runwood’s motto is ‘Your care in our hands’, the report found: ‘A relative said, "I hear bells ringing and ringing, and people shouting 'Help! Help!' I come at lunch and don't leave till 8 o'clock. I see it all."'

According to one judge: ‘It would be funny if it weren’t so awful.’

​The judges also made special mention of Ferndale Court in Widnes, owned by Britain’s biggest care group, HC-One – which bills itself as ‘the kind care company’ and Carlton Lodge in Normanton, West Yorkshire – owned by Care Worldwide (Carlton).

Carlton’s report says: ‘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.'

Ferndale's report reveals: 'One person told us, "There is no point complaining, no one listens, nothing gets done." A relative told us, "The care is poor. I have made numerous complaints it's no use. Nothing changes".’

Worst Care in an Independent Home

Long Meadow, one of the overall winners, is a clear winner in this field.

The runner-up is Haven Lodge in Bristol, which is owned by the small operator Hudson Healthcare. One of the judges said the name 'Haven' was presumably a ‘joke since there is nothing haven-like about Haven Lodge'.

According to the report, one resident told the inspectors: "'I am so bored, I have decided to eat these crisps to pass the time of day. Nothing much ever happens here, but it is to be expected at my age.'"

Special mentions in this category go to The Vicarage in Manchester. It was singled out by judges, who pointed to the comment: 'We asked three staff if they would like to have a family member living at the home and we received negative responses from all three staff.'

Judges also wanted Alton House in Hornchurch, Essex mentioned for the single most shocking incident in these reports: ‘During afternoon tea we observed one staff member wake up a person who was sleeping by forcing a banana into their mouth without their consent. As the person awoke, staff told the person, "It is yum" before walking away and letting the banana fall into the person's lap.’

​Worst Care Provider.

There was no disagreement about the Worst Care Provider category. For the second year running this ‘anti-accolade’ goes to Sussex Healthcare, the homes group under investigation by the Police in relation to the deaths of several older and vulnerable residents.

Currently, 12 of Sussex Healthcare’s homes, which are held by two SHC-named holding companies, are rated as ‘Requiring Improvement’, with three graded ‘Inadequate’ by the CQC and only three ‘Good’. In other words, 83% of homes owned by SHC have effectively failed their inspections, compared with an industry average of 40%. A further home, Horncastle House, outside East Grinstead, was shut in the autumn after the Local Authority removed residents.

One of the judges said 'the sheer ratio of bad reports makes SHC the Worst Provider'. According to another: ‘It was no contest’.

OLM’s judges comprised service users, family members of residents and health care experts. They took part on a voluntary and unpaid basis and have been guaranteed anonymity.

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