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CQC inspectors demand improvements to safety and staffing levels at Somerset care home

18 April 2012

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has told Somerset County Council that it must take action to improve standards of care at a council-run care home for people with learning disabilities.

In a report which is published this week, CQC inspectors identify a series of concerns found at the Old Farmhouse and the Briars in Chard. The home provides care and support for seven adults who have complex needs and present difficult behaviours.

The registered provider, Somerset County Council (LD Services), has been given 14 days to provide details of how it will comply with the standards. CQC has been working closely with the council’s own safeguarding officers to ensure that people are no longer at immediate risk of harm.

Inspectors found that the care home has been failing to meet five national standards of quality and safety, covering care and welfare, staffing levels, safeguarding arrangements, safety and suitability of premises and the monitoring of the quality of service provided. By law, providers of care services must ensure that they are meeting all standards.

Inspectors made an unannounced inspection of the care home in March following concerns about the quality of care and the safety of people who live there. The report which has now been published on the CQC website gives further details.

Care and welfare of people who use services

Inspectors found that people did not receive care and support in line with their assessed needs and preferences. Staff did not always know what was written in care plans. Due to inconsistent staffing, people were not protected from unsafe or inappropriate care.

Safeguarding people

People were generally protected from abuse, or the risk of abuse, but safe staffing levels were not maintained for people who need support with their behaviours. People were not protected from the behaviour of others.

Safety and suitability of premises

People were not currently provided with a homely environment to live in. Although the fabric of the home was safe, some areas did not meet the needs of the people who live there.

Staffing

People's needs were not being met consistently and they were not always safe due to a lack of experienced and consistent staff.

Assessing and monitoring the quality of service provision

Inspectors found that people were given limited opportunities to express their views about their care and support. Quality assurance systems in place were not effective to ensure that people received safe and effective care. They did not ensure improvements needed to the service were made once they had been identified.

Ian Biggs, deputy director of CQC in the South said:

“This was clearly a very stressful working environment, seriously affecting the care and welfare of the people who live there. During our inspection we saw that staff did their best and appeared genuinely committed to the people they supported. But it was clear that they could not consistently meet people's needs and there was a rushed, sometimes chaotic feel to the home.

“The permanent staff told us that they were always extremely busy with many, often conflicting, demands from the people in their care which meant that they simply did not have enough time to meet each person's needs day to day.

“It is a matter of concern that even when issues which affected the care and safety of people who lived in the home were identified, there was no evidence that any action was taken.

“Somerset County Council have assured us that they are now taking action to address these issues. As a first step, they have been required to send CQC a report that shows how they are going to achieve compliance with these essential standards.

"We will continue to monitor this service. Our inspectors will return in the near future and if we find that the home is not making progress we will consider using our legal powers on behalf of the people who live there.”

Ends

For further information please contact the CQC press office on 0207 448 9401 or out of hours on 07917 232 143.

Notes to editors

About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.