Ipswich health service in special measures after safety risks identified

The Ipswich branch of Carewatch looks after people in their own homes, particularly older people. St

The Ipswich branch of Carewatch looks after people in their own homes, particularly older people. Stock image Picture: PETER BYRNE/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

Bosses at a Suffolk care agency have vowed to continue making improvements after a health watchdog put the service into special measures.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) ranked the Ipswich branch of Carewatch, based in Norfolk Road, as ‘inadequate’ overall following three visits in May this year.

Concerns were raised over the safety of people looked after by the service – which sees workers provide personal care to people living in their own homes and flats.

CQC chiefs highlighted safety risks around choking, nutrition and medicine management.

At a previous inspection in 2016, the agency was ranked as ‘good’.

“People were not receiving care and support in a consistently safe manner,” inspectors wrote in a report.

“This was because risks to people from receiving care and support were not managed effectively.”

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Making unannounced visits to people cared for by the agency, they identified one person considered to be at risk of choking – because they struggled to chew and swallow.

They noted an assessment had been carried out in February, but advice had not been added to their care plan.

“This put the person at risk of choking if they were given food of an inappropriate texture,” inspectors warned.

In another case, they found a person’s medicines were locked away in a box, but the incorrect code for combination locks were given in the care plan.

Inspectors also found a high number of calls had been missed in early 2018, but were told by management that there had been no missed calls or cancelled visits three weeks before the inspection.

Staffing problems contributed to many of the issues raised by the CQC, a spokesman for the service said.

They added: “We care passionately about the welfare of our customers and are determined to return care services at Ipswich to their usual high standards. “We are working to address the points identified by the CQC, which arose due to particular recruitment and staffing issues affecting the branch locally, but also reflecting the care sector nationally.

“The branch is under the leadership of a new manager, supported by an experienced regional team to drive quality improvements in agreement with the CQC and the local authority, so we are confident it is on an upward trajectory back to a ‘good’ rating as quickly as we can secure this.”