• Sarah Whitebloom

‘It’s been horrific’: say staff of Covid-hit care home, which regulator knew was ‘unsafe’

A Care Quality Commission report, unusually published yesterday, on a Saturday, reveals that an Essex-based care home, which the regulator had known to be unsafe, was the site of a devastating Covid 19 outbreak earlier this year.

A team of regulators had visited the home in March, shortly before the spring lockdown, and had declared it officially ‘Inadequate’ and unsafe. A report on the March inspection stated: ‘Infection control was poorly managed which placed people, staff and others at risk due to cross infection.’

In another passage the inspectors said: ‘We saw one person had a significant bruise to the side of their face. Because staff failed to report this there had been no investigation into how the bruising had occurred.’

But the CQC allowed the home to continue caring for 37 vulnerable people, in the face of the pandemic.

Inspectors were sent to the home again in September. They wrote a sobering second ‘Inadequate’ report, which was published with no fanfare yesterday, as the airwaves were filled with news of Joe Biden’s success.

This report states: ‘Six months prior to the pandemic CQC and the local authority had significant concerns about the lack of systems and leadership in the service. The lack of leadership, oversight and scrutiny by the registered persons failed to identify poor care practice and significant shortfalls in the management of the service.
‘These failings placed people using the service at risk of harm, and significant exposure to the risk of harm. When the pandemic came, the service was ill prepared to manage the outbreak, resulting in significant consequences for the service, people and staff.’

The September inspectors said there were now 18 people living in the home, which had a new manager with a new attitude. The report said the home has improved in terms of safety and management, but still ‘Requires Improvement’ in both respects.

Yesterday’s report, however, says the home ‘failed to act in an open and transparent way’ with family members of people in the home during the pandemic.

And it states: ‘At the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic, the provider did not have systems in place to ensure risks were managed effectively, which significantly impacted on the service. The service had a high number of infections and deaths due to Covid 19.
‘Staff who have returned to work following the pandemic told us, "It's been horrific," and "It was an incredibly difficult time." They told us they had felt supported by the registered manager, but less so by the provider.’

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