Socialist Worker

Watchdog slams standards at Suffolk care home run by private health firm Care UK

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2424

Doncaster Care UK strikers are fighting to defend the quality of the service for adults with learning disabilities they provide

Doncaster Care UK strikers are fighting to defend the quality of the service for adults with learning disabilities they provide (Pic: Socialist Worker)


A damning Care Quality Commission (CQC) report into a Suffolk residential care home reveals the standards of care deemed acceptable by owners Care UK.

Mildenhall Lodge is one of ten new homes opened by the company in a deal with Tory-run Suffolk County Council.

The CQC took enforcement action “to protect the health, safety and welfare of people using this service”.

It slammed Care UK for not having “sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, skilled and experienced staff”.

Its report said, “We were concerned that a lot of people seemed to be spending the majority of their time in their rooms.”

Staff also said residents “were being left in bed too long, often not getting up until lunchtime” and some “were not getting enough fluids as staff were too busy”.

The CQC said there was “no evidence of the service promoting a healthy diet” for one diabetic resident.

Care records were not “completed appropriately and contained conflicting information which placed people at risk”. Others were “not sufficiently detailed to ensure that staff had all the information they needed to keep people safe”.

Unacceptable

Low staffing levels in the nursing unit were deemed unacceptable, as “each person needed considerable support with their meals and dietary intake”.

Relatives came in to help feed residents as they “were not confident” they would get a meal “while it was still hot or receive all the help they needed to eat it”.

One resident’s record on 29 July showed they “had sustained a 5% weight loss since 20 May”. Another was hospitalised because their food wasn’t correctly prepared.

The response times to call bells in the home “placed people at risk”.

The report said, “The registered manager had previously told us that the call bell should default to a louder bell after three minutes and to an emergency bell after four minutes.”

But call bell response times over just three days showed Care UK’s home was not meeting this standard.

CQC said that on 20 occasions call bells rang for more than five minutes before being answered. On ten occasions they rang for more than ten minutes. Three night time call bells went unanswered for 15, 22 and 23 minutes.

Inspectors highlighted worrying trends in training. They said that the “newest member of staff had no record of a structured induction”.

Ten staff were on duty on the day of the inspection. Four had no record of training in nutrition and three had no record of safeguarding training. Four had no record of training in dementia care and four had no record of practical moving and handling training.

The CQC criticised “low staffing levels”. One worker on the dementia unit was looking after 11 residents while two members of staff were on duty in the nursing unit to support and care for seven people.

Workers told inspectors “there were not enough of them to carry out their roles safely and effectively”.


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