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Comfort Call Gateshead Requires improvement

Inspection Summary

Overall summary & rating

Requires improvement

Updated 18 December 2020

About the service

Comfort Call Gateshead is a large domiciliary care agency providing personal and nursing care to in excess of 1000 people at the time of the inspection.

Not everyone who used the service received personal care. CQC only inspects where people receive personal care. This is help with tasks related to personal hygiene and eating. Where they do we also consider any wider social care provided.

People’s experience of using this service and what we found

A significant number of people and relatives were unhappy with the current rota system. Care workers were regularly late, not always consistent and calls were often cut short. Although most people and relatives felt staff were caring, the inconsistencies they experienced had a negative impact on the care they received. Most staff gave similar feedback describing their rotas as unmanageable and constantly changing. Rotas we viewed mirrored this feedback.

People and relatives told us they had raised concerns about inconsistent care many times without improvement. During the last consultation with people using the service between September and December 2019 a significant number of people rated the service very poor or poor for time keeping, communication and dealing with complaints quickly.

The provider lacked a robust system to investigate and address incidents. Investigation reports did not evidence thorough investigations took place to ensure risks to people’s safety were managed safely. Although the provider monitored incidents, action plans lacked detail and lessons learnt were not identified and shared.

Staff knew how to raise concerns and most felt confident to do so. Safeguarding referrals were made to the local authority when required.

Although the provider had a structured approach to quality assurance, these systems had not been successful in improving people’s experience.

Staff gave mixed feedback about the culture of the organisation. A significant number of staff told us management were not approachable and felt their views were not listened to.

The provider has developed an immediate action plan to address the issues identified with the South Tyneside branch.

The provider followed safe recruitment processes to recruit new staff and managed medicines safely.

Staff had access to the personal protective equipment (PPE) they needed. The provider took timely action to ensure staff consistently followed PPE guidance.

For more details, please see the full report which is on the CQC website at

Rating at last inspection

The last rating for this service was good (published 8 November 2018).

Why we inspected

We undertook this targeted inspection to follow up on specific concerns which we had received about the service. The inspection was prompted in part due to concerns received about the quality of people’s care, treating people with dignity and the robustness of investigations to address concerns raised.

CQC have introduced targeted inspections to follow up on Warning Notices or to check specific concerns. They do not look at an entire key question, only the part of the key question we are specifically concerned about. Targeted inspections do not change the rating from the previous inspection. This is because they do not assess all areas of a key question.

Following feedback from people using the service and staff gathered during the inspection, a decision was made for us to inspect and examine those risks.

We inspected and found there was a concern with timings and duration of care calls, poor communication and the effectiveness of investigations to address these concerns, so we widened the scope of the inspection to become a focused inspection which included the key questions of safe, effective and well-led.

The overall rating for the service has changed from good to requires improvement. This is based on the findings at this inspection.

We have found evidence that the provider needs to make improvement.

You can see

Inspection areas


Requires improvement

Updated 18 December 2020

The service was not always safe.

Details are in our safe findings below.



Updated 18 December 2020


Requires improvement

Updated 18 December 2020

The service was not always caring.

Details are in our caring findings below.



Updated 18 December 2020


Requires improvement

Updated 18 December 2020

The service was not always well-led.

Details are in our well-Led findings below.