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County Durham care home rated inadequate by Care Quality Commission and placed in special measures

26 September 2016
Highfield House Residential Home
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The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has told Highfield House, that they must make improvements to protect the safety and welfare of people living there.

CQC carried out its most recent inspection in July and August 2016. Inspectors found that the care being provided by, the provider, Mrs Susan Burns and Mrs Marion Burns, was failing to provide care which was safe, effective, caring, responsive or well led. The home has been rated inadequate overall and continues to be in special measures

Inspectors found significant improvements had not been made to meet the requirements and Highfield House Residential Home was inadequate in four of the five areas CQC inspected. The home was not well run, operational procedures were disorganised and oversight by the registered providers was ineffective.

Some of the findings from the latest inspection included:

There were gaps in significant parts of some people's care planning records which meant that staff did not have plans in place which they could use to guide their practice and take appropriate action.

Medication administration procedures and systems were not robust and did not protect people living at the home from risk associated with poor medicines management. Medicines that have a sedative effect were found to be used without guidance or sufficient agreed practice to safeguard and protect people living at the home.

In addition, none of the staff or the registered manager had been trained in medicines management to update them in line with current NICE guidance.

Arrangements to ensure control of infections at the home were not robust. Service users and staff at the home were not protected from the risk of water borne infections such as Legionella and actions to detect, prevent and control the spread of infections had not been completed. This showed that people living at the home were not protected from risks from their environment and arrangements to reduce these risks had not been taken.

Debbie Westhead, Deputy Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care in the North, said:

The care provided at Highfield House was of a very poor standard. To be rated inadequate in four categories and requires improvement in the fifth, represents very poor care and is simply not good enough.

We found the care provided at Highfield House home fell short of the standards we expect services to provide. I am concerned that the providers have not acted in a timely fashion to achieve compliance, meet service users' needs and adequately protect them from receiving poor care.

People are entitled to services that deliver consistently good care and we have told the provider, that they must take action as a priority. Mrs Susan Burns and Mrs Marion Burns need to act quickly and effectively to turn around this service. With an overall rating of 'Inadequate' the service will remain in 'Special measures'.

We have been working with Durham County Council and local Clinical Commissioning Group to ensure that people living at the home are not at undue risk. We will continue to monitor this care home. CQC will consider the appropriate regulatory response to resolve the problems found.


For further information please contact CQC Regional Engagement Manager David Fryer 07901 514220 or Kerri James on 07464 92 9966

Journalists wishing to speak to the press office outside of office hours can find out how to contact the team here. Please note: the press office is unable to advise members of the public on health or social care matters. For general enquiries, please call 03000 61 61 61.

Last updated:
29 May 2017

Notes to editors

Special Measures
All adult social care services inspected since 1 April 2015 that receive an overall rating of Inadequate will be placed into special measures by CQC. The regime is designed to make sure there is a timely and coordinated response to inadequate care and we will use it alongside our enforcement policy.

When a service is in special measures it is the provider’s responsibility to improve, seeking appropriate support from its own resources and from other relevant organisations. When we can, we will signpost providers to improvement support agencies.

Those services will be inspected again within six months. If a service demonstrates improvements and is no longer rated as inadequate for any of the five key questions we will take it out of special measures. If sufficient improvements have not been made and there remains a rating of inadequate for any key question or overall, we will take further action which may include cancelling the registration of that service.

More information on our special measures process.

Providers are required by law to display their ratings on their premises and on their websites so that the public can see their rating quickly and easily. This should be done within 21 days of publication of their inspection report.

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.