‘Inadequate’ care home likened to a ‘prison’ as inspectors raise safety concerns

PUBLISHED: 11:41 28 February 2020

The Willows care home in Ipswich. 


The Willows care home in Ipswich. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Rachel Edge

An Ipswich care home for people with dementia has been slammed by a watchdog – which has highlighted concerns for the safety of people living there.

The Willows Care Home, in Crabbe Street, was rated 'inadequate' overall by the Care Quality Commission after a visit in January - which means it is now in special measures.

It was considered 'good' only 18 months ago in November 2018, but this time around the facility was rated poorly for safety and leadership.

Bosses at Sohal Healthcare, which runs The Willows, said they have taken quick action to address the issues raised in a subsequent CQC report.

What went wrong?

The Willows care home in Ipswich. 

Picture: RACHEL EDGEThe Willows care home in Ipswich. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

- Safety of residents

One person living at the facility reported being assaulted by another resident - but staff had not provided any support after the incident, other than moving their room further away, inspectors said.

They said the other resident "set about me downstairs, twisting my arms (and) used to come into my room about half past five in the morning, I did not feel safe".

Staff also received information about several incidents of verbal and physical aggression from the person towards others - yet did not take any precautionary measures, the report said.

Systems at the home were either not in place or robust enough to demonstrate people were protected from abuse.

Other concerns included an instance of approximately 10 shampoo, conditioner and shower gel bottles left unattended - which posed risks to a majority of residents living with dementia. There were concerns they may accidently drink them.

The operations manager at the time confirmed there had been a high number of falls at the home but these were being dealt with, and had even reduced recently.

- Staffing concerns

While people in bedrooms have a call bell within reach, they're not answered properly, inspectors said.

One told the CQC: "I think they rush quite often. Well I understand they have lots of people to look after but I feel a little anxious if they've not got enough time for me."

Inspectors also discovered there were inadequate numbers of workers to cover the needs of residents - which was a breach of the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

There are often times where staff are not visible around the home and inspectors said this demonstrated "poor communication and coordination".

- Respect for residents

Several people said they did not feel they had any choice in any decisions made - nor did they feel like they mattered to staff, inspectors wrote in their report.

The CQC said people did not always "feel well-supported, cared for, or treated with dignity and respect".

One went so far as to say: "I've thought about this quite a lot - people have an idea in their heads about what care homes are like and mine was correct - it's like a prison."

When serving residents' meals, inspectors observed that many staff did not offer simple choices such as whether people wanted gravy on their plate or not.

Staff also gave out hot drinks but placed them out of reach of bed-bound residents.

Many staff did not ask for permission to come into residents' rooms, which left people feeling upset.

This led to people not always receiving "meaningful interactions" to reduce the risks of them becoming lonely and isolated.

- What happens next?

In summary, the CQC inspector described the service at the Willows as "organised chaos" and rated them 'inadequate', which puts them into special measures.

The key question of whether the home was well-led was rated 'good' during the previous inspection.

However, this rating has now deteriorated to 'inadequate'.

The report said: "This meant there were widespread and significant shortfalls in service leadership.

"Leaders and the culture they created did not assure the delivery of high-quality care."

Face-to-face training will be implemented for staff and the home have a period of six months to improve their care.

What did the company which runs the home have to say?

A spokesman for Sohal Healthcare said: "Sohal Healthcare works openly and transparently with the CQC to remedy any actions highlighted from inspections.

"The Willows has a new management team in place and we are confident that we are progressing quickly in addressing the issues highlighted in the recent report.

"We are working closely with both the CQC and Local Authority in making the required improvements at the service."

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